The Particulars: Data are lacking on the potential magnitude of cost savings from interventions directed at ED encounters. An understanding of ED care and ED-directed healthcare costs by type of visit and the proportion of national health expenditures made up by these costs may help shed light in this area.

Data Breakdown: For a study, researchers analyzed national data to determine the average per visit payments and charges for ED outpatient and inpatient encounters by visit type. Among all encounters involving ED-directed healthcare, the greatest per visit expenditures were attributable to hospital admissions from the ED. Non-urgent outpatient ED visits generated the lowest per visit expenditures. ED-directed healthcare accounted for 11.2% of national health expenditures, including 7.0% from ED admissions and 4.2% from outpatient ED visits.

Take Home Pearl: Efforts to reduce costs associated with ED care and ED-directed healthcare may be most effective if they target the emergency physician’s role as a gatekeeper to hospital admission.