Through a new effort to follow best practices in Washington's emergency rooms, patients are receiving better care and taxpayers are saving money, according to a new report.
In the ER is for Emergencies Program, all hospitals in the state agreed to follow seven best practices to ensure patients are getting care in the most appropriate setting. The initiative responded to a call from the Legislature to address high emergency room use by state-insured Medicaid patients, and it is expected to save $31 million a year.
"As an emergency department doctor, I want to see people get the best care possible, and often the ER is not the place for that,” said Sen. Nathan Schlicher, D-Gig Harbor. “This program is example of the kind of results we can achieve when we bring everyone to the table. Patients are receiving high-quality care, there are fewer non-emergency visits to emergency rooms, and we are saving precious health care dollars.”
A medical doctor, Schlicher helped design the program, and plans to pursue similar opportunities in his role as the new state Senator for the 26th District. On Thursday he joined colleagues in the Legislature and the medical community in welcoming early data on the success of the ER is for Emergencies Program.
Among its achievements:
- A 23percent reduction in emergency visits by Medicaid patients who frequently use emergency services
- Projected savings of $31 million to the state for the fiscal year
- Quintupling the number of hospitals exchanging emergency department information electronically, to 85, with 10 more moving to the system
- Doubling the number of shared care plans, which ensure patients receive coordinated care
- A 250 percent increase in the number of providers registered in the state’s Prescription Monitoring Program, which identifies patients with narcotic-seeking behaviors
The program is a joint effort of the Washington State Medical Association, the Washington State Hospital Association, the Washington Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians and the state Health Care Authority. The organizations are continuing the program with the goal of further improving care quality and increasing cost savings.
The full report can be found at: http://www.hca.wa.gov/leg_reports.html