Why Do Patients Go to the Emergency Department?  Engaging patients to promote optimal ED utilization

Two of CHA's 2020 operating priorities for a Healthy CHA include provide exceptional patient experience of care and lowering health care costs by providing appropriate care in the right setting, at the right time. When it comes to emergency department use, patient behavior does not always align with institutional goals. Results from the 2018 CHA/Somerville Community Health Project revealed many patients have a poor understanding of how to best utilize the health care system. Specifically patients have difficulty deciding when to use urgent care or the emergency department and lack understanding of what their primary care clinic can offer in terms of after-hours and team based care. Among patients in the Mass Health ACO, little is known about why patients go to the emergency room or why they choose to go to a hospital outside of CHA. Lastly, it is unclear what patients think CHA can do to improve patient understanding of the health care system and communicate best practices for emergency room. The goal of this project is understand reasons for emergency department use among patients in the Mass Health ACO and engage patients in the design of an intervention to reduce non-urgent ED use, reduce outmigration, and promote optimal use of the primary care clinic.