Study Evaluates Intervention to Reduce ER Visits by Low Income and Medicaid Patients

A study conducted at the University of Maryland School of Public Health, published in the journal Health Affairs, evaluated the results of an intervention to connect low-income uninsured and Medicaid patients to a reliable source of primary healthcare.

For 20 years, use of hospital emergency departments has been on the rise in the United States, particularly among low-income patients who face barriers to accessing healthcare outside of hospitals including not having an identifiable primary healthcare provider. Almost half of emergency room visits are considered "avoidable." The Emergency Department-Primary Care Connect Initiative of the Primary Care Coalition, which ran from 2009 through 2011, linked low-income uninsured and Medicaid patients to safety-net health clinics.

"Our study found that uninsured patients with chronic health issues--such as those suffering from hypertension, diabetes, asthma, COPD, congestive heart failure, depression or anxiety--relied less on the emergency department after they were linked to a local health clinic for ongoing care," says Dr Karoline Mortensen, assistant professor of health services administration at the University of Maryland School of Public Health and senior researcher. "Connecting patients to primary care and expanding the availability of these safety-net clinics could reduce emergency department visits and provide better continuity of care for vulnerable populations."

Read the complete report on the study at ScienceDaily: http://bit.ly/1RcOewV