Executive Summary

While most healthcare reforms have thus far been focused outside of the ED, they nonetheless have big implications for emergency providers, according to a panel of experts who discussed the future of emergency care at a conference sponsored by the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC. Going forward, the experts noted that emergency providers need to engage on how to most-effectively deliver higher value while also achieving better alignment with primary care providers. And they highlighted reforms that are already delivering results in pioneering EDs.

  • Through the use of high-risk care plans, a specialized protocol for chest pain, and other reforms, the ED at the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health System, based in Bel Air, MD, has been able to prevent more than 500 hospital admissions in the past year.
  • Working with partners, emergency physicians in Washington state have managed to save the state more than $32 million while also slashing narcotic prescribing to Medicaid recipients by 24%. Their interventions include a prescription drug monitoring program, a mechanism for information sharing on key data points, and the development of care plans for frequent ED utilizers.
  • A program called Bridges to Care in Denver, CO, has thus far been able to reduce ED and hospital utilization among frequent utilizers by 40%, generating $2 million in cost-savings to the health care system. The program focuses on identifying the key drivers of utilization, and then addressing these drivers with interventions. Program developers say connecting with patients while they are still in the ED, as opposed to making follow-up phone calls, is key to the program’s success.