A study by Excellus BlueCross BlueShield says 90 percent of visits to new York State hospital emergency departments are for conditions that could be just as well treated in less expensive settings.
The annual cost of these unnecessary visits is $1.3 billion, according to the study.
“The best method of care for nearly all of these cases is for patients to see their primary-care doctors in office visits,” said Jamie Kerr, M.D., medical director of Excellus BCBS. “But when the physician isn’t available, many of these potentially preventable E.R. cases can be addressed with telemedicine visits or going to urgent-care centers at considerably greater convenience and less cost.”