‘Make the Right Call’ When Considering the Emergency Department

ambulanceCINCINNATI—UC Health Emergency Medicine physician Chris Miller, MD, wants Cincinnatians to make sure they know where to go when they need medical care—and he’s joined with the local “Make the Right Call” campaign to spread the word.

“Make the Right Call” is a public service campaign created by the Health Collaborative to help patients make smart choices about when to use the emergency department (ED) and when to seek care from their primary physician.

To help spread the message, the Health Collaborative has partnered with the Council on Aging of Southwestern Ohio (COA), Health Care Access Now and the Universal Health Care Action Network of Ohio, as well as the Health Collaborative’s own Consumer Council.

The goal of “Make the Right Call” is to educate health consumers about when to use the emergency department for health care and when to seek treatment from their primary care doctor. Equipped to handle life-threatening conditions, emergency departments are among the most expensive settings for care.

The campaign aims to reduce the number of unnecessary local emergency department visits by 10 percent by April of 2015.

To contribute, Miller appeared in a “Make the Right Call” video with a local primary care physician to explain the differences in the strengths each form of care provides patients, and when it’s best to go to an emergency department.

“The health care system is complex, and navigating it can be a challenge for any patient,” says Miller, who serves as medical director of UC Medical Center’s Emergency Department. “Care coordination with a patient’s primary care team is critical to maximizing efficient, appropriate and cost-effective care.

“Potentially avoidable ED visits contribute to overcrowding, create patient progression bottlenecks and unnecessarily limit bed availability. The ripple effect is that many emergency departments in our country have an overcrowding problem.

“There are certain symptoms for which patients should go to an emergency department immediately,” he adds. “As patients, however, we should always attempt to reach out to our primary care physician to determine the best place for our care.”

While urgent conditions such as stroke-like symptoms, chest pain and trouble breathing require immediate emergency department evaluation, it is common for patients to seek emergency treatment for more routine symptoms that, while uncomfortable, are not life-threatening.

Your Health Matters notes that the top five complaints by patients who seek emergency department care are: abdominal pain, urinary tract infection, headache, chest pain and upper respiratory infection.

“Misuse of emergency department resources drives up overall health costs across Greater Cincinnati and prevents emergency departments from tending to true medical emergencies quickly,” says Judy Hirsh, director of consumer engagement and programs at the Health Collaborative.

“Many people who use emergency departments for non-emergencies do so because they are unaware of the types of ailments that can be treated conveniently and affordably by a primary care physician. In fact, there are many who do not have a primary care physician at all. With ‘Make the Right Call,’ we are encouraging individuals to select a primary care physician and to use yourhealthmatters.org to find one that meets their needs.”

For more information about the Make the Right Call campaign, as well as additional resources to find a primary care physician, visit http://www.yourhealthmatters.org/make-the-right-call-act.php.

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