ER Costs in The Spotlight

The Denver media has shown a renewed interest in emergency room (ER) charges in the wake of articles in the Denver Post highlighting the growth of free-standing ER facilities popping up all around the Denver metro area, and patients accidentally utilizing these facilities when they really meant to go to an urgent care.

New analysis from Center for Improving Value in Health Care (CIVHC) shows Coloradans spending $800 million extra on ERs when they could have gone to a physician’s office or urgent care is adding fuel to the fire.

In light of the growth of free-standing ERs, we recommend practices alert their patients to the steep cost of going to an ER unnecessarily or for routine medical conditions.. It is help to put an after-hours message on your clinic phone system that counsels patients what to do – and where to go – with typical after-hours medical situations. The message doesn’t have to be complicated: “For true medical emergencies like uncontrolled bleeding or difficulty breathing, call 911. For less urgent situations, like sore throats, colds and sprains, go to an urgent care facility (not hospital or ER).

Some physicians even suggest a specific urgent care facility near their office, further lowering the chance their patients will accidentally wander into an ER when they don’t need to that level of care. Helping your patients avoid unnecessarily high bills will further reinforce you are “in their corner” and are looking out for their best interests.

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