Health and Safety

When is it Time to Go to the Emergency Room?

August 22, 2011
By
Tom Canty, Vice President & General Manager for Labor, Government & Special Accounts at Empire BlueCross BlueShield

When you jam your finger in at a Wednesday night basketball game and you’re not sure if it’s broken, what should you do? You could head to the emergency room, but urgent care centers are another option for less serious ailments like this. And, they provide quality care and will cost you a lot less.

Consider this: By going to an urgent care center, rather than the ER, you could save on out-of-pocket expenses because ER co-pays are higher than urgent care center copays.

Empire BlueCross BlueShield has launched a campaign incorporating Google Maps to make it easier for you to find and use urgent care centers for non-emergency conditions when your regular physician isn’t available.

All you have to do is go to Google, Yahoo! or Bing, and type in ‘Empire NY Urgent Care’ and you’ll find a link that will help you find urgent care centers located in your area of choice. The link also provides information on when it’s appropriate to use these alternatives.

Research shows that about 17 percent of all visits to hospital emergency departments nationally could potentially be treated at urgent care centers for an estimated savings of $4.4 billion. ER visits also are getting longer, with New York ranked 46th nationally in the length of its ER waits—296 minutes, according to the Emergency Department Pulse Report.

Empire’s Emergency Room Alternative Program includes:

·       Ads on Google, Yahoo! and Bing that drive you to an educational site that explains when it’s appropriate to use ER alternatives

·       A Google map, available to everyone, that provides the location of ER alternatives in Empire’s network throughout the state

·       Automated calls to educate members whose recent ER visits were potentially avoidable and e-mails to members interested in additional information

·       Educational pieces mailed explaining what conditions could be treated at ER alternatives and the potential differences in cost.

August 20, 2011

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