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Impact of emergency physician-provided patient education about alternative care venues

Interventions that focus on educating patients appear to be the most effective in directing healthcare utilization to more appropriate venues. We sought to evaluate the effects of mailed information and a brief scripted educational phone call from an emergency physician (EP) on subsequent emergency department (ED) utilization by low-risk adults with a recent treat-and-release ED visit. Patients were randomized into 3 groups for post-ED follow-up: EP phone call with mailed information, mailed information only, and no educational intervention. Each intervention group was compared with a set of matched controls. We undertook this study in 6 EDs within an integrated healthcare delivery system. Overall, 9093 patients were identified; the final groups were the phone group (n = 609), mail group (n = 771), and matched control groups for each (n = 1827 and n = 1542, respectively). Analysis was stratified by age (<65 and ≥65 years). Patients were educated about available venues of care delivery for their future medical needs. The primary outcome was the rate of 6-month ED utilization after the intervention compared with the 6-month utilization rate preceding the intervention. Compared with matched controls, subsequent ED utilization decreased by 22% for patients 65 years or older in the phone group (P = .04) and by 27% for patients younger than 65 years in the mail group (P = .03). ED utilization subsequent to a low-acuity ED visit decreased after a brief post-ED education intervention by an EP explaining alternative venues of care for future medical needs. Response to the method of communication (phone vs mail) varied significantly by patient age.

Authors: Patel PB; Vinson DR; Gardner MN; Wulf DA; Kipnis P; Liu V; Escobar GJ

Am J Manag Care. 2018 05;24(5):225-231.

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