Reducing avoidable emergency room visits in Washington state

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Reducing avoidable emergency room visits in Washington state

Too often emergency rooms become the place where patients go with problems that are not emergencies. When simple medical concerns that can be treated easily and more cost effectively in a primary care office or an urgent care clinic end up being treated in the emergency room (ER), they contribute to waste in the health care system.

Right Care, Right Setting: A Report on Potentially Avoidable Emergency Room Visits in Washington State offers a unique look at the problem of potentially avoidable ER visits in our state. Drawing upon our robust claims database, we were able to look at potentially avoidable visits both by hospital and by medical group. In making this report and infographic (see below) available, we hope to highlight the role that all of the stakeholders have to play in addressing the problem of avoidable ER visits.

Infographic detailing top reasons for avoidable ER use in Washington state, and tips on what consumers should do instead.
Going to the ER? This infographic details why you should think twice before going to the ER and how to make sure you are getting the most appropriate care. Credit: Washington Health Alliance.


CHI Franciscan Health System: Making strides toward more appropriate use of the ER

One delivery system that is making strides to reduce avoidable ER visits is CHI Franciscan, who is featured in this month’s Spotlight on Improvement, our monthly series that highlights real stories of health care quality improvement. CHI Franciscan’s effort to provide convenient alternatives to the emergency room is paying off.

According to our ranking of hospitals’ avoidable ER visit rates, two CHI Franciscan hospitals have the lowest avoidable ER visit rates for both Medicaid and commercially insured patients. Furthermore, five of CHI Franciscan’s seven hospitals rate statistically better than the Puget Sound regional average for Medicaid and three hospitals rate better for commercially insured patients. By improving both access to and awareness of alternative care settings, CHI Franciscan is reducing health care spending from unnecessary use of higher priced emergency rooms.

Reports point to potential overuse of health care services in Washington state

Our report on avoidable ER use was one of three reports we released in January on potential overuse of health care services in Washington state. These reports have practical applications for employers and consumers who would like to reduce the risk and cost of medically unnecessary services; and for hospitals and medical groups, who want to be more competitive and efficient. The ultimate goal is to contribute to a healthier Washington.

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