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Consistency of ties with physicians said to reduce their patients’ visits to ERs


Seniors who consistently see the same physicians in  outpatient settings are more likely to avoid  emergency-room visits, according to a study  by CMS and Dartmouth researchers and published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

The researchers measured continuity of care based on two risk scores and found that patients who saw the same physician consistently were 20 percent less likely to go to the ER.

Those who did go to the ED were slightly more likely to be admitted to the hospital. The study suggested that  patients with more continuity of care receive more appropriate ED referrals.

“Visits with the same physician or a small number of physicians fosters long-term relationships for Medicare patients, which is ultimately good for their health,” said David Nyweide, Ph.D., a researcher with CMS and lead author of the study,  said in an announcement from the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP).

FierceHealthcare noted that the  number of ER visits has grown considerably in the past several years, blamed partly on an increasing number of non-emergency patients showing up there.

“Previous studies have shown that improving continuity of care could save Medicare as much as $600 billion each year by reducing frequently overused medical procedures, and limiting the rate of mortality linked to cardiovascular events,” Fierce reported.

To read the study, please hit this link.

To read a Fierce overview of the study, please hit this link.

Survey: Insurers’ high deductibles, etc., send many patients to ER


Lots of patients with  health insurance are going to  emergency rooms because they have delayed care because of high out-of-pocket costs including deductibles and co-insurance, says a survey by the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP).

The survey found that seven out of  ten  emergency room doctors asked reported seeing patients who delayed seeking care because of costs. And two-thirds  said that primary-care physicians  send patients to  ERs for medical tests or procedures that insurance won’t cover during office visits.

“Many patients are motivated by fear of costs and not by the seriousness of their medical conditions,” ACEP president Jay Kaplan, M.D.,  said in criticizing insurers for shifting more costs to patients and providers. “They call it cost-cutting when in reality it is profit-boosting.”

U.S.  physicians, the world’s best paid, do not mention the role of their own fees in such insurance-coverage problems.

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