As the nation implements health care reform, emergency care has never been more important. We treat everyone, from babies to seniors, and we see the entire spectrum of medical problems. We save more than lives — we are dedicated specialists who mobilize resources and coordinate care for our patients.

A new report by the RAND Corporation finds that emergency physicians continue to play a key role in reducing health care costs. We are the decision-makers for nearly half of all hospital admissions, which account for more than 30 percent of the nation’s health care costs.

Many emergency departments such as ours here at St. Joseph Hospital are already providing more comprehensive services to the community, including care management in the emergency department, coordinating closely with our acclaimed community-based care management programs. In this way we care for the whole patient (and even families), enabling us to align to the triple aim of providing the best patient care and ensuring better health in our community at controlled or reduced cost.

The RAND report urges policy makers and hospital administrators to pay closer attention to the role emergency physicians play in evaluation management and finding less costly alternatives to hospital admission. Greater collaboration is needed between office-based and hospital-based physicians to ensure seamless transition for patients from one site of care to another, and ultimately a safe transition home. Emergency departments must continue to be fully integrated in health care delivery systems.

Charles F. Pattavina, M.D.

Chief, Dept. of Emergency Medicine

St. Joseph Hospital

Bangor

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