OBJECTIVES: Although recent health care reform efforts have focused on minimizing high cost health care utilization, the relationship between acute care use and health care expenditures among certain vulnerable populations such as Medicaid-insured children remains poorly understood. We sought to evaluate the association between acute care utilization and health care expenditures and to identify characteristics associated with high spending.
METHODS: We performed a retrospective cohort study of Medicaid-enrolled children 1-21 years old from 1/1/2016 to 12/31/2016. Children were categorized by acute care use (including emergency department and urgent care visits) as 0, 1, 2, 3, and 4 or more visits. Our main outcomes were annualized spending, total per-member-per-year spending, and acute care-related per-member-per-year spending.
RESULTS: There were 5.1 million Medicaid-enrolled children that comprised the study cohort, accounting for US $32.6 billion in total spending. Children with 4 or more acute care visits were more likely to be younger than 2 years or older than 14 years, female, and have a chronic condition. Children with 4 or more acute care visits consisted of only 4% of the cohort but accounted for 15% (US $4.7 billion) of the total spending. Increasing acute care visits were associated with increasing total annualized spending in adjusted analyses (P < 0.001). This association was disproportionately observed in older age groups and children without chronic medical conditions.
CONCLUSIONS: Medicaid spending for children increases with increasing acute care use; this trend was disproportionately observed in older age groups and children without chronic medical conditions. Improved understanding of factors contributing to frequent acute care utilization and disproportionate spending is needed to potentially reduce unnecessary health care costs in these pediatric populations.
OBJECTIVE: The U.S. opioid epidemic persists, yet it is unclear if opioid-related emergency department (ED) policies have changed. We investigated: 1) the prevalence of opioid use disorder (OUD) prevention and treatment policies in New England EDs in 2018, and 2) how these policies have changed since 2014.
METHODS: Using the National Emergency Department Inventory-USA, we identified and surveyed all New England EDs in 2015 and 2019 about opioid-related policies in 2014 and 2018, respectively. The surveys assessed OUD prevention policies (to use a screening tool, access the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program [PDMP], notify primary care providers, prescribe/dispense naloxone) and treatment policies (to refer to recovery resources, prescribe/dispense buprenorphine).
RESULTS: Of 194 EDs open in 2018, 167 (86 %) completed the survey. Of 193 EDs open in 2018 and 2014, 147 (76 %) completed both surveys. In 2018, the most commonly-reported policy was accessing the PDMP (96 %); the least commonly-reported policy was prescribing/dispensing buprenorphine to at risk patients (37 %). EDs varied in prescribing/dispensing naloxone: 35 % of EDs offered naloxone to ≥80 % of patients at risk of opioid overdose versus 33 % of EDs to <10 % of patients at risk. Most EDs (74 %) reported prescribing/dispensing buprenorphine to <10 % of patients with OUD. Comparing 2018 to 2014, the greatest difference in policy use was in prescribing/dispensing naloxone (+55 %, p < 0.001).
CONCLUSION: Implementation of opioid-related ED policies increased between 2014 and 2018. Continued effort is needed to understand the extent to which policy implementation translates to clinical care, and to best translate evidence-based policies into clinical practice.
BACKGROUND: Neighborhood stress score (NSS) and area deprivation index (ADI) are two neighborhood-based composite measures used to quantify an individual's socioeconomic risk based on home location. In this analysis, we compare the relationships between an individual's socioeconomic risk, based on each of these measures, and potentially preventable acute care utilization.
METHODS: Using emergency department (ED) visit data from two academic medical centers in Boston, Massachusetts, we conducted adjusted Poisson regressions of ADI decile and NSS decile with counts of low acuity ED visits, admissions for ambulatory care sensitive conditions (ACSCs), and patients with high frequency ED utilization at the census block group (CBG) level within the greater Boston area.
RESULTS: Both NSS and ADI decile were associated with elevated rates of utilization, although the associated incidence rate ratios (IRRs) for NSS were higher than those for ADI across all three measures. NSS decile was associated with IRRs of 1.11 [95% CI: 1.10-1.12], 1.16 [1.14-1.17], and 1.22 [1.19-1.25] for ACSC admissions, low acuity ED visits, and patients with high frequency ED utilization, respectively; compared with 1.04 [1.04-1.05], 1.11 [1.10-1.11], and 1.10 [1.08-1.12] for ADI decile.
CONCLUSION: ADI and NSS both represent effective tools to assess the potential impact of geographically-linked socioeconomic drivers of health on potentially preventable acute care utilization. NSS decile was associated with a greater effect size for each measure of utilization suggesting that this may be a stronger predictor, however, additional research is necessary to evaluate these findings in other contexts.
INTRODUCTION: Emergency department (ED) visits related to opioid use disorder (OUD) have increased nearly twofold over the last decade. Treatment with buprenorphine has been demonstrated to decrease opioid-related overdose deaths. In this study, we aimed to better understand ED clinicians' attitudes toward the initiation of buprenorphine treatment in the ED.
METHODS: We performed a mixed-methods study consisting of a survey of 174 ED clinicians (attending physicians, residents, and physician assistants) and semi-structured interviews with 17 attending emergency physicians at a tertiary-care academic hospital.
RESULTS: A total of 93 ED clinicians (53% of those contacted) completed the survey. While 80% of respondents agreed that buprenorphine should be administered in the ED for patients requesting treatment, only 44% felt that they were prepared to discuss medication for addiction treatment. Compared to clinicians with fewer than five years of practice, those with greater experience were less likely to approve of ED-initiated buprenorphine. In our qualitative analysis, physicians had differing perspectives on the role that the ED should play in treating OUD. Most physicians felt that a buprenorphine-based intervention in the ED would be feasible with institutional support, including training opportunities, protocol support within the electronic health record, counseling and support staff, and a robust referral system for outpatient follow-up.
CONCLUSION: ED clinicians' perception of buprenorphine varied by years of practice and training level. Most ED clinicians did not feel prepared to initiate buprenorphine in the ED. Qualitative interviews identified several addressable barriers to ED-initiated buprenorphine.
OBJECTIVES: The objective was to evaluate if there is an association between patient-physician language concordance and adverse patient outcomes or physician adherence to clinical recommendations for emergency department (ED) patients with chest pain. METHODS: We conducted a retrospective observational study of adult ED chest pain encounters with a troponin order from May 2016 to September 2017 across 15 community EDs. Outcomes were 30-day acute myocardial infarction or all-cause mortality, hospital admission/observation, or noninvasive cardiac testing. To assess patient outcomes, we used the overall cohort. To assess adherence to clinical recommendations, we used a subgroup of patients with a low-risk HEART score. A mixed-effects logistic regression model was used to compare the odds of the outcomes between language concordant and discordant patient-physician pairs, controlling for patient characteristics. RESULTS: Overall, 52,014 ED encounters were included (10,791 low-risk HEART encounters). Of those 6,452 (12.4%) encounters were language discordant and 1.7% in each group had an adverse outcome. Adjusted models demonstrated no increased risk for language discordant ED encounters when comparing adverse outcomes (odds ratio [OR] = 0.96, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.6 to 1.5) for all patients or recommended care (OR = 1.02, 95% CI = 0.87 to 1.2) for low-risk patients. CONCLUSIONS: No associations were found between patient-physician language concordance and outcomes or physician adherence to clinical recommendations for ED patients with chest pain. Accessible and effective interpretation services, combined with a decision support tool with standard clinical recommendations, may have contributed to equitable care.
OBJECTIVES: The objective was to evaluate if there is an association between patient-physician language concordance and adverse patient outcomes or physician adherence to clinical recommendations for emergency department (ED) patients with chest pain.
METHODS: We conducted a retrospective observational study of adult ED chest pain encounters with a troponin order from May 2016 to September 2017 across 15 community EDs. Outcomes were 30-day acute myocardial infarction or all-cause mortality, hospital admission/observation, or noninvasive cardiac testing. To assess patient outcomes, we used the overall cohort. To assess adherence to clinical recommendations, we used a subgroup of patients with a low-risk HEART score. A mixed-effects logistic regression model was used to compare the odds of the outcomes between language concordant and discordant patient-physician pairs, controlling for patient characteristics.
RESULTS: Overall, 52,014 ED encounters were included (10,791 low-risk HEART encounters). Of those 6,452 (12.4%) encounters were language discordant and 1.7% in each group had an adverse outcome. Adjusted models demonstrated no increased risk for language discordant ED encounters when comparing adverse outcomes (odds ratio [OR] = 0.96, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.6 to 1.5) for all patients or recommended care (OR = 1.02, 95% CI = 0.87 to 1.2) for low-risk patients.
CONCLUSIONS: No associations were found between patient-physician language concordance and outcomes or physician adherence to clinical recommendations for ED patients with chest pain. Accessible and effective interpretation services, combined with a decision support tool with standard clinical recommendations, may have contributed to equitable care.
STUDY OBJECTIVE: The effect of urgent cares on local emergency department (ED) patient volumes is presently unknown. In this paper, we aimed to assess the change in low-acuity ED utilization at 2 academic medical centers in relation to patient proximity to an affiliated urgent care.
METHODS: We created a geospatial database of ED visits occurring between April 2016 and March 2018 to 2 academic medical centers in an integrated health care system, geocoded by patient home address. We used logistic regression to characterize the relationship between the likelihood of patients visiting the ED for a low-acuity condition, based on ED discharge diagnosis, and urgent care center proximity, defined as living within 1 mile of an open urgent care center, for each of the academic medical centers in the system, adjusting for spatial, temporal, and patient factors.
RESULTS: We identified a statistically significant reduction in the likelihood of ED visits for low-acuity conditions by patients living within 1 mile of an urgent care center at 1 of the 2 academic medical centers, with an adjusted odds ratio of 0.87 (95% confidence interval 0.78 to 0.98). There was, however, no statistically significant reduction at the other affiliated academic medical center. Further analysis showed a statistically significant temporal relationship between time since urgent care center opening and likelihood of a low-acuity ED visit, with approximately a 1% decrease in the odds of a low-acuity visit for every month that the proximal urgent care center was open (odds ratio 0.99; 95% confidence interval 0.985 to 0.997).
CONCLUSION: Although further research is needed to assess the factors driving urgent care centers' variable influence on low-acuity ED use, these findings suggest that in similar settings urgent care center development may be an effective strategy for health systems hoping to decrease ED utilization for low-acuity conditions at academic medical centers.
INTRODUCTION: Social risks adversely affect health and are associated with increased healthcare utilization and costs. Emergency department (ED) patients have high rates of social risk; however, little is known about best practices for ED-based screening or linkage to community resources. We examined the perspectives of patients and community organizations regarding social risk screening and linkage from the ED.
METHODS: Qualitative interviews were conducted with a purposive sample of ED patients and local community organization staff. Participants completed a brief demographic survey, health literacy assessment, and qualitative interview focused on barriers/facilitators to social risk screening in the ED, and ideas for screening and linkage interventions in the ED. Interviews were conducted in English or Spanish, recorded, transcribed, and coded. Themes were identified by consensus.
RESULTS: We conducted 22 interviews with 16 patients and six community organization staff. Three categories of themes emerged. The first related to the importance of social risk screening in the ED. The second category encompassed challenges regarding screening and linkage, including fear, mistrust, transmission of accurate information, and time/resource constraints. The third category included suggestions for improvement and program development. Patients had varied preferences for verbal vs electronic strategies for screening. Community organization staff emphasized resource scarcity and multimodal communication strategies.
CONCLUSION: The development of flexible, multimodal, social risk screening tools, and the creation and maintenance of an accurate database of local resources, are strategies that may facilitate improved identification of social risk and successful linkage to available community resources.
BACKGROUND: Asthma is the most common chronic condition among children with high-frequency emergency department (ED) utilization. Previous research has shown in outpatients seen for asthma that acute care visits predict subsequent health care utilization. Among ED patients, however, the optimal method of predicting subsequent ED utilization remains to be described. The goal of this study was to create a predictive model to identify children in the ED who are at risk of subsequent high-frequency utilization of the ED for asthma.
METHODS: We used 3 years of data, 2013-2015, drawn from the electronic health records at a tertiary care, urban, children's hospital that is a high-volume center for asthma care. Data were split into a derivation (50%) and validation/test (50%) set, and 3 models were created for testing: (1) all index patients; (2) removing patients with complex chronic conditions; and (3) subset of patients with in-network care on whom more clinical data were available. Each multivariable model was then tested in the validation set, and its performance evaluated by predicting error rate, calculation of a receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve, and identification of the optimal cutpoint to maximize sensitivity and specificity.
RESULTS: There were 5535 patients with index ED visits, of whom 2767 were in the derivation set and 2768 in the validation set. Of the 5535 patients, 125 patients (2.3%) had 4 or more visits for asthma in the outcome year. Significant predictors in models 1 and 2 were age and number of prior ED visits for asthma. For model 3 (additional clinical information available), the predictors were number of prior ED visits for asthma, number of primary care visits, and not having a controller medication. Areas under the ROC curve were 0.77 for model 1, 0.80 for model 2, and 0.77 for model 3.
CONCLUSIONS: Administrative data available at the time of ED triage can predict subsequent high utilization of the ED, with areas under the ROC curve of 0.77 to 0.80. The addition of clinical variables did not improve the model performance. These models provide useful tools for researchers interested in examining intervention efficacy by predicted risk group.
INTRODUCTION: Over the past decade, the number of refugees arriving in the United States (U.S.) has increased dramatically. Refugees arrive with unmet health needs and may face barriers when seeking care. However, little is known about how refugees perceive and access care when acutely ill. The goal of this study was to understand barriers to access of acute care by newly arrived refugees, and identify potential improvements from refugees and resettlement agencies.
METHODS: This was an in-depth, qualitative interview study of refugees and employees from refugee resettlement and post-resettlement agencies in a city in the Northeast U.S. Interviews were audiotaped, transcribed, and coded independently by two investigators. Interviews were conducted until thematic saturation was reached. We analyzed transcripts using a modified grounded theory approach.
RESULTS: Interviews were completed with 16 refugees and 12 employees from refugee resettlement/post-resettlement agencies. Participants reported several barriers to accessing acute care including challenges understanding the U.S. healthcare system, difficulty scheduling timely outpatient acute care visits, significant language barriers in all acute care settings, and confusion over the intricacies of health insurance. The novelty and complexity of the U.S. healthcare system drives refugees to resettlement agencies for assistance. Resettlement agency employees express concern with directing refugees to appropriate levels of care and report challenges obtaining timely access to sick visits. While receiving emergency department (ED) care, refugees experience communication barriers due to limitations in consistent interpretation services.
CONCLUSION: Refugees face multiple barriers when accessing acute care. Interventions in the ED, outpatient settings, and in resettlement agencies, have the potential to reduce barriers to care. Examples could include interpretation services that allow for clinic phone scheduling and easier access to interpreter services within the ED. Additionally, extending the Refugee Medical Assistance program may limit gaps in insurance coverage and avoid insurance-related barriers to seeking care.
OBJECTIVE: Adult patients are increasingly receiving care in pediatric emergency departments (PEDs), but little is known about the epidemiology of these visits. The goals of this study were to examine the characteristics of adult patients (≥21 years) treated in PEDs and to describe the variation in resource utilization across centers.
METHODS: We conducted a cross-sectional study examining visits to 30 PEDs (2012-2016) using the Pediatric Health Information System. Visits were categorized using All Patient Refined Diagnosis Related Groups and compared between age cohorts. We used multivariable logistic models to examine variation in demographics, utilization, testing, treatment, and disposition.
RESULTS: There were 12,958,626 visits to the 30 PEDs over 5 years; 70,636 (0.6%) were by adults. Compared with children, adult patients had more laboratory testing (49% vs 34%), diagnostic imaging (32% vs 29%), and procedures (48% vs 31%), and they were more often admitted (17% vs 11%) or transferred (21% vs 0.7%) (P < .001 for all). In multivariable analysis, older age, black race, Hispanic ethnicity, and private insurance were associated with decreased odds of admission in adults seen in PEDs. Across PEDs, the admission rates (7%-25%) and transfer rates (6%-46%) for adults varied.
CONCLUSIONS: Adult patients cared for at PEDs have higher rates of testing, diagnostic imaging, procedures, and admission or transfer. There is wide variation in the care of adults in PEDs, highlighting the importance of further work to identify the optimal approach to adults who present for care in pediatric centers.
OBJECTIVES: Organizations to promote career networking and mentorship among women are recommended as a best practice to support the recruitment and retention of women physicians; however, the impact of such organizations is unknown. Our primary objective is to describe the impact of a national woman-focused organization for academic emergency physicians on retention and advancement.
METHODS: We conducted semistructured interviews of past and present organization leaders, as well as members at varying stages in their careers. Physicians with experience in qualitative methods conducted interviews and coded all transcripts using inductive content analysis techniques. Themes were reviewed and discussed to ensure consensus.
RESULTS: We performed 17 interviews lasting 20 to 30 minutes each, resulting in 476 total minutes of transcript. Participants represented varying stages of career experience, ranging from 2 to 35 years since residency completion (median = 9.5 years). Median years of participation in the woman-focused organization was 10 years. Over half (53%) of participants were past presidents of the organization. The dominant themes encompassed facilitating academic advancement through scholarly productivity, leadership experiences, awards, and promotions; mentorship and sponsorship; peer support and collaborations; reduced professional isolation; and initiatives to address systemic gender inequities and challenges, including strategies to navigate bias, promote pay equity, and advocate for family-friendly workplace policies.
DISCUSSION: Active participation in a woman-focused professional organization enhances members' career retention and advancement by creating opportunities and relationships that facilitate leadership, enabling scholarly work to advance equity and inclusion, and cultivating a sense of belonging. While challenges and barriers persist, the myriad benefits of a women-focused professional organization reported by members and leaders represent important steps toward greater equity for women and other underrepresented groups in academic medicine.
Importance: Diagnostic imaging overuse in children evaluated in emergency departments (EDs) is a potential target for reducing low-value care. Variation in practice patterns across Canada and the United States stemming from organization of care, payment structures, and medicolegal environments may lead to differences in imaging overuse between countries.
Objective: To compare overall and low-value use of diagnostic imaging across pediatric ED visits in Ontario, Canada, and the United States.
Design, Setting, and Participants: This study used administrative health databases from 4 pediatric EDs in Ontario and 26 in the United States in calendar years 2006 through 2016. Individuals 18 years and younger who were discharged from the ED, including after visits for diagnoses in which imaging is not routinely recommended (eg, asthma, bronchiolitis, abdominal pain, constipation, concussion, febrile convulsion, seizure, and headache) were included. Data analysis occurred from April 2018 to October 2018.
Exposures: Diagnostic imaging use.
Main Outcome and Measures: Overall and condition-specific low-value imaging use. Three-day and 7-day rates of hospital admission and those admissions resulting in intensive care, surgery, or in-hospital mortality were assessed as balancing measures.
Results: A total of 1 783 752 visits in Ontario and 21 807 332 visits in the United States were analyzed. Compared with visits in the United States, those in Canada had lower overall use of head computed tomography (Canada, 22 942 [1.3%] vs the United States, 753 270 [3.5%]; P < .001), abdomen computed tomography (5626 [0.3%] vs 211 018 [1.0%]; P < .001), chest radiographic imaging (208 843 [11.7%] vs 3 408 540 [15.6%]; P < .001), and abdominal radiographic imaging (77 147 [4.3%] vs 3 607 141 [16.5%]; P < .001). Low-value imaging use was lower in Canada than the United States for multiple indications, including abdominal radiographic images for constipation (absolute difference, 23.7% [95% CI, 23.2%-24.3%]) and abdominal pain (20.6% [95% CI, 20.3%-21.0%]) and head computed tomographic scans for concussion (22.9% [95% CI, 22.3%-23.4%]). Abdominal computed tomographic use for constipation and abdominal pain, although low overall, were approximately 10-fold higher in the United States (0.1% [95% CI, 0.1%-0.2%] vs 1.2% [95% CI, 1.2%-1.2%]) and abdominal pain (0.8% [95% CI, 0.7%-0.9%] vs 7.0% [95% CI, 6.9%-7.1%]). Rates of 3-day and 7-day post-ED adverse outcomes were similar.
Conclusions and Relevance: Low-value imaging rates were lower in pediatric EDs in Ontario compared with the United States, particularly those involving ionizing radiation. Lower use of imaging in Canada was not associated with higher rates of adverse outcomes, suggesting that usage may be safely reduced in the United States.