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ACEP Chief: ER Docs Must Look Beyond Acute Care

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, October 17, 2011

Emergency room doctors see themselves in a health reform vise, squeezed on one side by administrators and payers who think they should work faster and better, and on the other by new penalty and billing rules they are only starting to understand.

That's what many said during the annual meeting of the American College of Emergency Physicians being held in San Francisco Saturday through Wednesday, which drew a record attendance of more than 6,000. Their concerns are prompting them to "redesign" what they do and how they work to improve both their value and their image.


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Emergency room doctors need to "consider stepping out of our perceived comfort zone and perception of only providing acute care," said ACEP's new president David Seaberg, MD, professor and dean of the University of College of Medicine in Chattanooga, during his opening remarks.

With this redesign, he said, emergency room doctors should drive "an additional team of health providers ? physicians, mid-levels, nurses, techs, case managers, and social workers" who would provide preventive care, immunizations, healthcare screenings, promote wellness through education on diet, exercise and other lifestyle choices.

That's a lot different than the usual practice, in which the relationship between the ED patient and physician ends when they leave.

"We can use our access to patients as a vehicle to enhance emergency medicine?s value by serving as a conduit to integrated medical care ? saving cost to the system and promoting quality care that keeps patients well," Seaberg said.

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