ER Utilization

Download the ER Toolkit


Improved access: right place @ right time

  • Survey patient needs to determine if ‘ease of access’ is satisfactory
  • Assess ‘slot utilization’
  • Align appointment time with need
  • Create protocols so staff understand medical concerns that can be ‘worked in’
  • Ensure same-day and next-day appointment availability



Appropriate Triage


  • Evaluate and refine processes for ‘triaging’ patients who call for a same day appointment
  • Evaluate nursing triage protocols
  • Update after hours voicemail messaging
  • Consider an after-hours call service and/or nurse advice line
  • Ensure a physician or nurse is on-call for urgent patient needs



Inform & Educate


  • Provide information on office hours, services, website and after-hours call number
  • Educate patients on where to seek care during scheduled appointments
    • Ask patients what ER they use or are most likely to use
    • Do patients consider your practice their primary care provider?
    • Let patients know about same-day and next-day appointment availability
  • Post patient-facing fliers to remind patients when to use the ER



Local Collaborations 


  • Reach out to ERs most frequented by patients to set up a meeting with both physicians and administrators
  • Discuss processes and protocols to standardize across institutions:
    • Real-time notification of patient arrival in ER?
    • Streamlined process to make appointment in clinic?
    • Shared determination with ER physician on admit decisions?
  • Consider partnerships with urgent care clinics



Post-ER Follow-Up: Care & Learn


  • Call patients after an ER visit to:
    • Understand reason for ER visit
    • Schedule a follow-up appointment in clinic
    • Assess the appropriateness of the ER visit and educate on alternatives if needed
    • Understand any barriers in receiving care in the most appropriate setting (if applicable)



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