HMOs can help reduce members' unnecessary emergency department visits by providing incentives for physicians to offer adequate access to primary care, according to a study published in the American Journal of Managed Care. The authors found that HMO members have lower ED utilization rates if their primary care physicians have moderate or high financial risks associated with members' seeking treatment at EDs for conditions that could be treated in primary care settings. Researchers recommended that capitated health plans allocate enough members to PCPs, so that revenue from these patients is sufficient to offset negative financial incentives to doctors for health plan members' unnecessary ED care.
This week's Health Policy Research Update also includes studies examining:
- Relationships among hospitals, public health officials and first responders in emergency preparedness efforts;
- Increasing prevalence of chronic health conditions among homeless people; and
- Role of language assistance services and cultural-sensitivity training for physicians in reducing health disparities among people with limited English proficiency.