By Brad Brooks
Much has been written recently about the opioid epidemic running rampantly through American cities and towns. The crisis impacts everyone, including hospitals that are being inundated by patients with opioid-related emergencies, often including overdoses of potentially lethal combinations of prescription medications and illegal drugs.
Concurrently, healthcare organizations are seeing an increase in patients visiting emergency departments (EDs) complaining of pain in order to obtain opioid prescriptions. Drug-seeking patients typically return to the ED several times a year, or visit multiple hospitals in surrounding communities in search of having a prescription filled.
ED overuse, however, is not exclusive to drug addicted patients. It also includes patients with mental illness; with multiple, uncontrolled chronic diseases; or those who believe the ED is their only access to care.
The financial consequences of unnecessary ED utilization are very real. One study estimates that $38 billion in spending each year could be eliminated by diverting care from the ED to a more appropriate setting. Streamlined clinical communication can help hospitals and health systems to reduce some of this overuse, improve patient care through more appropriate actions, and augment reimbursement under value-based payment models through better efficacy.
By aligning communications across multi-disciplinary care teams—not just physicians and nurses—but also social workers and rehabilitation facilities, patients can get the effective, appropriate help they need and organizations can reduce wasteful care spending. [Read more…]