Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Okay, I'll say it again: can we PLEASE get a national health care policy in place?

A new report from The Advisory Board shows that nonurgent ED (emergency department) visits are a source of bad debt.  The article says "Hospitals are not only seeing record growth in the use of ED resources by nonurgent patients but also finding that many nonurgent patients ultimately are written off as bad debt. Given this reality, many hospitals have begun to explore ideas for encouraging more appropriate ED utilization for patients with nonurgent needs. "
Here's an idea: let's run nonurgent needs through an outpatient clinic, like we're supposed to!  The ED is for emergencies, not nonurgent care.
I've heard a developer and a finance guy each cast aspersions at a national health care plan, saying it would mess up/foul up the healthcare design and construction industry.  I'm having a hard time seeing how.  If suddenly, 41+million Americans (with Social Security numbers, I might add) had health care, wouldn't you need a hell of a lot more treatment spaces for those people?  If the funding came to provide that care, instead of becoming the black hole that is nonurgent-indigent-care-at-the-ED, hospitals might have more cash to pay nursing staff to extend hours of treatment and/or build or remodel those treatment spaces.
Do we have any healthcare providers in the crowd interested in sounding off on this?


Xtine said...

A national healthcare policy will not fix this. It will alleviate it some, but man, people are stupid.

Where will your drug-seekers go? Still to the ER.
And the drunks who are delaying their admission to jail by claiming a condition? Yes, the ER.

And other people who view the ER as the first choice for all health care matters. As long as some people think hangnails and three day old headaches warrant 911 calls and ambulance rides, you're going to have this gross misuse of the ER. And simply having access to outpatient clinics isn't going to change behavior like this.

Mile High Pixie said...

Good point, Xtine. A friend in high school used to work as a 911 operator on the weekends, and she fielded the DUMBEST calls sometimes. There may be no helping dumb people except at the ED. And good point about the drug users or people avoiding jail--I hadn't thought of those. However, it should help at least some of the ED inflow, especially if outpatient clinics also maintain extended hours, like until 8pm.