3 ways free-standing ERs can help patients

Free-standing emergency departments could transform healthcare delivery for the better because they have lower overhead costs than hospital-based EDs but provide similar levels of care, according to a blog post published by NEJM Catalyst.

The number of standalone EDs operated by hospitals grew 76 percent from 2008 to 2015; 323 hospitals now operate 387 free-standing EDs, according to the article. Most are in Texas, Colorado and Arizona, which do not require the EDs to get certificates of need.

The authors argue that while free-standing emergency rooms could generate enormous profit because they charge the same as hospital EDs but have much lower overhead, they also could provide valuable new services "if cultivated properly." 

The model offers: 

  1. Better costs: The model has new pricing and payment models that take advantage of lower overhead costs to save patients money.
  2. Ability to connect patients to targeted care: The ERs can refer patients who require hospitalization to the right hospital for their needs (such as stroke care or cardiac care) rather than the closest facility.
  3. Prevent admissions: The model provides an opportunity to find alternatives to hospitalizations, the post noted. Perhaps these standalone EDs can partner with "micro-hospitals" that offer observation and short-stay admissions in a lower-cost environment close to home, while still being fully connected to the larger healthcare system.

To learn more:
- here's the article