Population Health University Emergency Department Utilization Module Now Available

To help our providers combat the challenges of increased Emergency Department use, Highmark has created a new Population Health University module for you to review. The Emergency Department (ED) Utilization Module includes an article and two panel discussions. You may review all or part of the module for Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits.

The article Appropriate Emergency Department Utilization: Leading to Better Care Coordination addresses how you can reduce emergency department utilization by aligning with the following Highmark initiatives and goals:

  • Social Determinants of Health (SDOH)
  • Behavioral Health
  • Pharmacist Integration
  • Enhanced Community Care Management (ECCM)
  • Technology and Telemedicine

Highmark brought together experts for two panel discussions: one on how emergency department utilization affects patient care and one on initiative sharing with Mt. Nittany Medical Center in State College, Pennsylvania.

During the first panel discussion, Dawn Lobick, Manager of Population Health at Highmark Health, addressed preventive steps a health system could take to reduce emergency department utilization.

“There needs to be an organizational culture in place within a health system that promotes two key things. One is a team-based model of care and the other is an operational infrastructure such as access,” she said.

Other topics discussed by that panel include:

  • Care management and how it can assist in addressing emergency department utilization
  • Interventions at a Population Health level
  • Addressing medication-related issues that lead to emergency room visits
  • SDOH and behavioral health factors

We also talked to our colleagues at Mt. Nittany Medical Center about their quality initiative to reduce emergency department utilization.

“We can tell you about some of the barriers we have in our area. We have very few urgent cares and most of those closed during COVID-19 or they had a significant cut in hours. We used to have some significant Saturday clinics and evening hours. They all stopped with COVID-19. So, our access to care was very limited, probably in the last 18 months, and I think that’s what drove those (emergency department utilization) numbers to be so high,”said Jacqueline Hahn, Director of Population Health and Case Management at Mt. Nittany Medical Center.

Other topics discussed by that panel include:

  • Walking the tightrope between over and under utilization
  • Mt. Nittany’s partnership with another hospital system and how they’re working together to put the community first
  • Success stories within the Highmark programs

Locating the Module

You may view this module and other educational tools for providers on Highmark’s Population Health University page on the Provider Resource Center.