Reducing Inappropriate ED Use to Reduce Costs

Last week 20 Massachusetts business groups announced that they were beginning an effort to reduce avoidable use of hospital emergency departments (ED).

The “Massachusetts Employer-Led Coalition to Reduce Health Care Costs” said it will work with strategic partners,, including MHA, to reduce “inappropriate” use of EDs by 20% in two years.

It will do so by: educating employees about ED usage as compared to care provided through primary care practices, retail clinics, and urgent care centers; tracking and publicly reporting data on avoidable ED visits; advocating for policy changes that promote accountable care organizations, telemedicine, and mobile integrated health, among other options; and “work with labor unions, healthcare providers, health plans, employers, and employees to reward and encourage the appropriate use of the ED by aligning financial incentives, and bolster the availability of care in the community, especially during nights and weekends.”

Read the coalition’s policy brief here.

Coalition leaders Richard Lord, president and CEO of the Associated Industries of Massachusetts, and Eileen McAnneny, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, said the group will help employers take a direct role in the health and health care of their employees and beneficiaries.

MHA President & CEO Steve Walsh, commenting at the media event last Wednesday, said the coalition’s efforts have the potential to reduce ED backups and reduce healthcare costs – two important priorities for the hospital community. He said the fact that businesses are collaborating with health interests and state government to achieve results is reminiscent of the unified effort that led to the commonwealth’s universal coverage healthcare reform law, Chapter 58, in 2006. MHA, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Association of Health Plans, the Massachusetts College of Emergency Physicians, and the state’s Health Policy Commission are strategic partners in the initiative.