Despite varying definitions of who is a frequent user, the studies reveal a telling picture of who is a frequent ED visitor. It's patient who are likely to have limited access to routine healthcare and primary care physicians, which could keep them out of the ED. They're also likely to have a chronic illness, complicated health problems, and mental health emergencies.
The solution, says like the problem, is multi-faceted, says Sama, "This is not a single hospital problem. It's a community resource issue."
Sama says better access to mental health services would be huge step in diverting some of the patients from the ED.
Better coordination of care is also among the findings of a separate study of the Medicare population from the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission. MEDPAC found that 60% of ED visits were preventable, as well as 25% of hospital admissions.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is attempting to address the issue. In June, the federal agency's innovation arm announced a $14.3 million grant to Rutgers University's Center for State Health Policy.