As the Affordable Care Act expands Medicaid to a greater number of patients, the need for states to keep emergency room costs in check will become more pressing.
In a trial program in Washington State, ERs are now required to upload information on patients they’ve treated into a new database. This allows other ER doctors and providers to research incoming patients, making a big impact on cost savings, with doctors now able to track patients whose situations would be better served by far less expensive office visits.
Patients with multiple visits (those who went to the ER more than four times a year) — suggesting they are using the ER in lieu of visiting primary case visits — made up a fifth of all ER visits paid for by Medicaid.
Data released on March 20 shows that ER visits by Medicaid patients fell 10 percent in the 2013 fiscal year, and the rate of ER visits that resulted in a non-acute diagnosis decreased by more than 14 percent. Database use is credited for a substantial amount of the state’s $33.7 million reduction in 2013 Medicaid costs. Read more…