Rather than a focus on keeping people out of the ED, Kaplan says the emphasis should be on providing EDs with the resources they need to successfully adapt to this new trend.
"That includes more widespread adoption of inter-connectability and interoperability of (healthcare information technology)," he says. "If the doctors have the patient in the ED from a skilled nursing facility, if I can access the patient's history and medications and allergies and test results that helps a lot. The more collaboration, the more we can create effective transitions of care."
"Care handoffs are crucial. Rather than seeing the ED as the more expensive place to receive care, they should be viewed as acute diagnostic centers that provide clinically and economically efficient ways to evaluate complex patients with worrisome symptoms."
Two weeks ago the American Hospital Association came out with its own report that showed that EDs are treating growing numbers of sicker Medicare patients who require more complex and expensive treatment regimens. AHA says data show that between 2006 and 2010, the severity of illness of Medicare patients in the emergency department increased, as did the rate of use, a trend that policymakers fear is leading to higher spending with inadequate reimbursements.