Prensa Care Routing Education
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics show there were about 130 million emergency room (ER) visits in the U.S. in 2018, and Medicaid patients used the emergency room twice as much as people with private insurance. Studies show that about 10% of ER visits are considered not urgent. In other words, some 13 million people went to the wrong place to get healthcare. Just because the ER is easy to access, doesn’t mean it’s the right place for you.
Prevention the Key
These days the goal is to prevent disease and treat the whole person rather than just the illness, and the best place to start is with a primary care provider, also known as your family doctor. The goal of your doctor is to help you thrive and prevent having to go to the ER and/or the hospital.
“Going to your doctor is super-important because that is your lifeline to keeping in good health,” advised Perla Acevedo Tran, a licensed physician in Mexico working on getting her license in the U.S. “Now, obviously, there needs to be good communication with your doctor. You want to be open and honest with your provider. That’s the only way to build your relationship with your doctor and have your health managed effectively.”
If you go to the ER because you don’t want to have a family doctor, you will most likely see someone different every time you go. No one will know your history, and you won’t receive a comprehensive review to help you control what’s bothering you. The staff will handle the complaint and get you out so they can move on to the next patient.
“Not only are annual examinations important,” Tran said, “but those with a chronic illness do have to be in much more frequent contact with their doctor because there is medication that needs to be monitored, refilled or even changed. Also, other specialists may be necessary and it’s very important to keep everyone in the loop. The PCP is the one who directs and keeps their patients well organized with their care in managing their chronic illnesses.”
If you’re having emotional issues, it’s okay to reach out to a behavioral health provider. You want to work through issues and stresses in your life because they not only can damage your health, but they can produce symptoms that mimic a serious health emergency that could cause you to incorrectly seek help at the ER.
The Whole Picture
When you go to the ER for nonurgent healthcare, you’re probably going to wait because the sickest patients get seen first. Not only will you wait but your nonurgent visit might affect another patient’s life-or-death situation.
“It’s important to have a broader picture of what’s happening in a hospital setting,” Tran explained. “It’s easy to complain that you had to wait so long. That’s because we’re stretching our providers so far out into seeing patients and determining which one is critically ill and needs time and attention versus the one that could easily manage their conditions at home.”
“That ends up affecting the quality of patient care ultimately,” Tran added. “The patients suffer and the healthcare workers suffer. They may miss ordering a test on a critical patient because of the rush to see more patients during the duration of their shift.”
Think about it. What if it was you or your family member that truly was critically sick and needed that immediate help and extra few minutes of attention?
Close the Loop
Once you get care at the ER, you will always be instructed to follow up with your provider. There are steps you will need to take to make sure you stay out of the hospital.
If you are a member, Equality Health has a team that will work with you after you get out of the hospital. They will help you get to your doctor for a follow-up and any other type of assistance you need.
If you don’t have a provider you feel comfortable with, did you know you can change providers? If you’re an Equality Health member, we’ll work with you until you find someone you’re comfortable with. Go to equalityhealth.com/members to find a doctor near you.
To learn more about where to go for your health needs, tune into Cafecito Time con Equality Health to listen to moderator Maria Rebozo-LaPine’s discussion with special guest Perla Acevedo Tran. Be sure to subscribe to Equality Health’s YouTube channel so you’ll know when each Cafecito segment will air.