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New study shows that billions may be wasted on unnecessary ED visits.
Two-thirds of hospital emergency department (ED) visits annually by privately insured individuals in the U.S-18 out of 27 million-are avoidable, according to a new study.
The study, “The High Cost of Avoidable Hospital Emergency Department Visits,” from UnitedHealth Group, underscores the challenges that exist for patients in accessing healthcare services, lowering costs, improving quality, and simplifying the patient’s experience.
“This research underscores that the high price of emergency care makes health care more expensive for patients. Patients need more convenient and practical access to primary care providers. This will help lower costs, improve outcomes and simplify the patient experience.”,” says L.D. Platt, vice president, external affairs communications.
According to the research, the hospital ED cost is:
The 18 million avoidable hospital ED visits add $32 billion in costs to the healthcare system each year, according to the report.
Currently, nearly one-in-five residents (62 million individuals) live in an area with a shortage of primary care providers. The U.S. is projected to experience a shortage of up to 120,000 physicians by 2030, which includes a shortfall of between 20,000 and 55,000 primary care physicians, according to the report.
According to the report, advanced care practitioners (ACPs), nurse practitioners (NPs), physician assistants (PAs), and certified nurse midwives (CNMs), are providing effective primary care and demonstrating equal or better outcomes than physicians for certain clinical and patient experience measures.
According to UnitedHealth Group “Broader deployment of ACPs in primary care will improve patient outcomes and the care experience, and increase efficient use of health care resources.”.
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Ten common primary-care-treatable conditions frequently treated at EDs include:
The average cost of treating those 10 conditions at a hospital ED is $2,032, more than $1,800 higher than in primary care settings.
“Increasing primary care capacity, and making primary care options more available and accessible to consumers beyond normal business hours, will help consumers avoid unnecessary and costly visits to hospital EDs,” Platt says.
Specifically, UnitedHealth Group points to solutions that would increase the primary care workforce size and in turn advance high-quality, affordable, and convenient healthcare, including: