Wash. Data Exchange Initiative Reduced Medicaid ED Visits by 10%

March 31, 2014 in News

An initiative by the Washington State Health Care Authority to use big data in emergency departments has reduced unnecessary ED visits by Medicaid beneficiaries by 10%, according to a report, Bloomberg Businessweek reports.

Background

In 2012, Washington implemented a mandatory program requiring hospitals in the state to use the Emergency Department Information Exchange to track patients’ use of hospital EDs.

Under the program, patients’ names are sent to the database when they register at an ED. The exchange then provides physicians with a list of recent ED visits by the patient.

So far, 424 primary care physicians have registered to receive automatic notifications through the system if one of their patients goes to the ED (Weise, Bloomberg Businessweek, 3/25).

Report Findings

The report found that after one year of the initiative:

  • The rate of ED visits among Medicaid beneficiaries declined by 10%; and
  • Narcotics prescriptions for Medicaid beneficiaries dropped by 24%.

In addition, Medicaid ED costs declined by $33.7 million. However, other factors could have contributed to that decline, according to FierceHealthIT.

Reaction

Carol Wagner, senior vice president for patient safety at the Washington State Hospital Association, said the database “created a whole new set of data so hospitals and communities could look at what patients are coming back to our emergency rooms” (Hall, FierceHealthIT, 3/28).

According to Businessweek, other states — including Oregon — are developing similar ED information exchanges (Bloomberg Businessweek, 3/25).

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