Emergency Department Utilization

Data Transparency Measure:
Emergency Department Utilization
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What is Emergency Department Utilization? Why measure it? 
Emergency department utilization, or "ED Utilization," refers to how often a person/population/patient uses the emergency department for any reason.
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.
UDS Definition 2017
CLICK HERE to see the following definition and documentation from OHA regarding ED Utilization.
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:
  • A Guide for Primary Care: 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 Data Toolkit: 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.
  • Health Integration Project: Emergeny Room Diversion Project that explores some key strategies for reducing emergency department utilization
  • EDIE/PreManage: Web-based tools that provide real time information to primary care clinics about their patients' emergency department utilization
  • Opportunities, Solutions and Drivers for Change: A look at the financial impact of emergency department overuse and some potential strategies for addressing it
  • Community Care Coordination Pathways: A quick start guide to developing a plan for care coordination and connecting with patients who are at risk of high utilization 
  • 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.

Helpful materials for taking action:

For additional information on this measure, refer to the links below:



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 .