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Emergency department care coordination strategies and perceived impact under Maryland's hospital payment reforms

J.E. Galarraga, D. DeLia, D. Wilhite, R. Romero-Barrientos, K. O'Sullivan, D. Noccolino, L. Pimentel, C. Woodcock, R.J. Fairbanks, J.M. Pines
Am J Emerg Med

Background: Emergency department (ED) care coordination plays an important role in facilitating care transitions across settings. We studied ED care coordination processes and their perceived effectiveness in Maryland (MD) hospitals, which face strong incentives to reduce hospital-based care through global budgets. Methods: We conducted a qualitative study using semi-structured interviews to examine ED care coordination processes and perceptions of effectiveness. Interviews were conducted from January through October 2019 across MD hospital-based EDs. Results were reviewed to assign analytic domains and identify emerging themes. Descriptive statistics of ED care coordination staffing and processes were also calculated. Results: A total of 25 in-depth interviews across 18 different EDs were conducted with ED physician leadership (n = 14) and care coordination staff (CCS) (n = 11). Across all EDs, there was significant variation in the hours and types of CCS coverage and the number of initiatives implemented to improve care coordination. Participants perceived ED care coordination as effective in facilitating safer discharges and addressing social determinants of health; however, adequate access to outpatient providers was a significant barrier. The majority of ED physician leaders perceived MD's policy reform as having a mixed impact, with improved care transitions and overall patient care as benefits, but increased physician workloads and worsened ED throughput as negative effects. Conclusions: EDs have responded to the value-based care incentives of MD's global budgeting program with investments to enhance care coordination staffing and a variety of initiatives targeting specific patient populations. Although the observed care coordination initiatives were broadly perceived to produce positive results, MD's global budgeting policies were also perceived to produce barriers to optimizing ED care. Further research is needed to determine the association of the various strategies to improve ED care coordination with patient outcomes to inform practice leaders and policymakers on the efficacy of the various approaches.

Galarraga JE, DeLia D, Wilhite D, et al. Emergency department care coordination strategies and perceived impact under Maryland's hospital payment reforms. Am J Emerg Med. 2020 Dec 25:S0735-6757(20)31168-2. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2020.12.048. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33402309.

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Peer Reviewed Research
Patient Experience of Care
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Other Study Design