But this practice drives up overall medical costs. The ED is a very expensive place to provide non-emergency care.
Tenet Healthcare, a for-profit health system with hospitals in 14 states, is expecting an influx of newly insured patients and is taking steps to make care more affordable by cutting costs in urgent-care centers and freestanding EDs, CEO Trevor Fetter told CNBC.
"It's a very hard thing to educate the patients that they ought to go to a physician or try to make an appointment if they're experiencing emergency conditions," Fetter said. "They're going to go to an urgent care, an emergency department, or a hospital. Our job is to be ready for them and to provide the service at a more affordable cost. I think that's part of the challenge for the future."
While it's true that educating newly insured patients about the proper access point will be difficult, hospital marketers must help answer the challenge. Rather than highlighting ED wait times, can marketing tactics help keep non-emergent patients out of the ED?