Easier access to after-hours care means less ER use

Patients who have difficulty finding primary care during off hours are more likely to end up in the emergency room, according to a Health Affairs study by the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC) published today. Researchers found that a fifth of Americans say they have trouble accessing primary care after hours. Conversely, increased support (phone, email, in person) for primary care practices slightly reduced emergency department use to 30.4 percent, compared to 37.7 percent. Patients also had lower rates of unmet medical needs at 6.1 percent, compared to 13.7 percent than people who experienced more difficulty. Study abstract