1. Background: Nationally, Emergency Department (ED) use has been on the rise and many areas are experiencing overcrowding and capacity shortages. In addition, there is a widely shared perception among health care providers that patients are turning to EDs for non-emergency care, indicating potential barriers to urgent care or primary care in alternative settings. This study was commissioned by the Work Group on Emergency Department Use created by the Maine Health Advisory Council. The study was part of a larger effort to identify possible areas of cost savings in the health care system in Maine. The intent of the study, carried out in collaboration with the Maine Health Information Center, was to measure the extent and type of ED use by Maine citizens and to analyze patterns by geographic area and patient characteristics.
2. Purpose of the project: This study used hospital data and insurance claims to measure hospital emergency department use in Maine and uncover patterns of use by diagnosis, health service area, and patient characteristics.
Project approach or study design:
Hospital discharge data was used to determine total numbers of ED visits, the percent distribution of visits by payer source, by health service area, by patient age and by diagnosis. Claims data for Maine