The intention behind this project is to tackle the persistent problem of misuse of the Emergency Department. We determined that the patient experience revolves around how a patient both is and feels cared for. However, patients usually leave the ER not feeling cared for, as their needs could have been better served elsewhere. In other words, the patient is not emotionally cared for, which is the second integral component to a positive patient experience.
The factors of ER misuse lead to higher healthcare costs for everyone, a jaded, unmotivated staff, longer wait times, and overall lower quality of care. An area that we feel that we can intervene in this problem is the concept of patient education. Patient education regarding the differing sectors within the healthcare system is integral to decreasing the amount of ER misuse. We feel that patients need to be educated on what is and isn’t a true emergency and where a more appropriate facility is that can meet their needs better in the future. By increasing public knowledge about alternative resources it can be predicted that waiting times/occupancy in the ER will be decreased, ER staff will have rejuvenated motivation which will lead to more positive patient interactions, healthcare costs will decrease, more patients will have Primary Care Physicians who will know them as both a patient and as a person, and patients will feel empowered by making decisions and being involved in their own healthcare. Most importantly, the patient experience will be improved, because by going to the appropriate facility the patient’s needs will be met, and therefore he or she will both be cared for and feel cared for.
We are seeking input on modes of educating the community on proper ER use as well as alternative resources for non-emergent needs. Have you seen progress in this area made? What other ways have been introduced or implemented to decrease inappropriate ER use which can lead to a poor patient experience? All input regarding our idea and/or intervention suggestions is greatly appreciated!
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