Emergency Department Utilization

Data Transparency Measure:
Emergency Department Utilization
What is Emergency Department Utilization?
Emergency department utilization, or "ED Utilization," refers to how often a person/population/patient uses the emergency department for any reason.
Why measure emergency department utilization?
While an emergency department visit typically costs more than a visit with a primary care physician, measuring ED utilization is not just about costs.  It's also about access, care coordination, and communication between the clinic and patient.
Though there are numerous reasons why a patient visits the emergency department, in some cases these visits are avoidable and the patient could have been treated by his or her primary care team. By measuring emergency department utilization, clinics can begin to take a critical look at other factors (clinic access, communication to patients about after-hours care, etc.) and assess why their patients may be visiting the emergency room instead of their medical home. 
What action can we take as a clinic to improve this measure?
Here are a few examples of changes organizations have made to improve this measure:
  • Communication and Patient Education: Communicating to patients both before and after they visit the ED about after-hours care, office hours, and what to do if they have an emergency can prevent unnecessary visits to the emergency room.
  • Hotspotting: Some organizations have created health care teams to better coordinate the care of "super-utilizers" - those who visit the emergency department for care much more often than the average.
  • Connecting with local hospitals: For smaller clinics, being notified by their local hospital that a patient has visited the emergency department can make the follow-up process a lot easier.
  • Connecting with your CCO: Many Coordinated Care Organizations are starting to send data regarding emergency department utilization to clinics. Contact your organization's CCO to see what data is available.
For additional information on this measure, refer to the links below:

Resources and Tools for Reducing Emergency Department Utilization Rates:

Name Date File size Hits    
Learning & Sharing Session: Local and National Efforts to Reduce Emergency Department Utilization - Dec. 2016 Version:1 2016-12-28 1.97 MB 65
Learning & Sharing Session: Emergency Department Utilization - Apr. 2015 Version:1 2015-10-22 1018.43 KB 281
Patient Communication Tools and Templates - Supplemental material from Nov. 2014 call Version:1 2017-01-12 732.52 KB 60


Have an article, workflow, tool or anything else that you would like to share with other clinics about this measure? Email the Data Transparency Team at .