EDs’ Changing Roles: Increasing Source of Admissions, Primary Care Support

June 14, 2013 | Strategic Insights for Ambulatory Care


The hospital emergency department (ED) increasingly supports primary care providers by performing complex diagnostic workups and meeting patients’ needs for overflow, after-hours, and weekend care, states The Evolving Role of Emergency Departments in the United States, a research report from the RAND Corporation. The research was sponsored by the Emergency Medicine Action Fund, a consortium sponsored by the American College of Emergency Physicians. It used both quantitative data (e.g., federal data sets, a long-term study on healthcare utilization and delivery patterns) and qualitative methods (e.g., focus groups, interviews) to investigate the role EDs play in healthcare today. Nearly all the specialist and primary care physicians interviewed indicated that “office-based physicians increasingly rely on EDs to evaluate complex patients with potentially serious problems, rather than managing these patients themselves,” the report states.

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