Medical entrepreneurs are remaking the emergency room experience. They’re pulling the emergency room out of the hospital and planting it in the strip mall.
It’s called a “free-standing ER,” and some 400 of them opened across the country in the past four years.
The waiting room, furnished with brown leather armchairs and a coffee station worthy of a spa, is empty because patients are usually seen right away.
Free-standing ERs can make a lot of money because they charge ER prices. A visit that might have cost $200 at an urgent-care center can cost four or five times as much at an ER.
Source:Kaiser Health News.
The emergency department would seem, at first glance, to be one of the more bustling spaces in medicine. With multiple patients in critical condition, it seems like it would be hard for doctors and other health providers to find a spare minute.
Except it’s apparently not that hard at all: A new study (flagged by Michael Ramlet of The Morning Consult) finds that for every hour emergency department workers use a computer, they spend an average of 12 minutes on Facebook — and that time on the site actually goes up as the department becomes busier.
From Sarah Kliff.
A RAND Health study found that hospital emergency rooms are now the point of access for nearly half of all hospital admissions in the U.S. and account for almost all of the growth in admissions between 2003 and 2009. During that time, hospital admissions grew only 4% — not even keeping pace with population growth. But ER-related admissions jumped 17%. (ModernPhysician.com)
Why this is important: about half of the newly insured under ObamaCare will get insured by Medicaid, and Medicaid patients use the emergency room twice as often as privately insured patients. Also, hospitals are buying doctors, who will be pressured to admit patients once they get to the emergency room.
This is what happens when the government ignores Dr. Jeffrey Brenner:
For more than two decades, Wanda Remo has battled one illness after another. Asthma, chronic lung disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, depression, chronic pain, strokes. Specialists treat her lungs, her heart and her joints.
Her litany of ailments brought her to emergency rooms six times last year, between numerous additional visits to a federally subsidized health clinic in South Los Angeles.
“You are one of the million-dollar patients,” her doctor, Derrick Butler, tells the 57-year-old as she leans on her walker during one appointment. (LA Times)
Michael Millenson on the government’s attempt to get everyone to use electronic health records:
Now we come to the behavior that really should inspire the outrage. We as a nation paid out billions in bribes because so many physicians simply refused to believe they could benefit from an EHR that the hospitals dependent on those doctors for admissions refused to buy computerized records no matter what the evidence. The vendors, aiming to ease the transition when hospitals did buy, designed clumsy interfaces based on provider habits and inefficiencies from the paper world. When the market finally changed, all the bad stuff got baked in: difficult interfaces and missing functionality that frustrated physicians; poor customer service from vendors puffed up with profits; absurd flaws — a medical record less searchable than a ten-year-old PC ― that were never corrected while piled-on new features created a kluge-job catastrophe.
Then there were the unintended consequences that occur when any innovation is taken to scale. Is it any surprise that academics focusing on efficiency and clinical improvement were blindsided by sharpies who focused, instead, on how EHRs could help game the reimbursement system to make more money? Is it a surprise that a new technology deployed in a hurry can be downright dangerous as well as helpful? Unfortunately, painting a picture of a panacea was useful for public relations purposes, but prompted a widespread backlash when reality set in.