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Focus on ED Utilization Misses Whole-Person Perspective

Data sharing between medical, behavioral, and social care data systems needed

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 6, 2019 (HealthDay News) — There is a need for shared patient-level data across medical, behavioral, and social care systems to meet the medical needs of frequent emergency department users, according to a study published in the November issue of Health Affairs.

Hemal K. Kanzaria, M.D., from the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues linked administrative data (fiscal years 2013 to 2015) for beneficiaries of the county’s Medicaid managed care plan to county-level integrated data to compare medical, mental health, substance use, and social services use among nonelderly nonfrequent, frequent, and superfrequent emergency department users in San Francisco County.

The researchers found that compared with nonfrequent users, frequent users were disproportionately female, white or black, and homeless. Additionally, frequent users had more comorbidities and annual outpatient mental health visits (11.93 versus 4.16), psychiatric admissions (0.73 versus 0.07), and sobering center visits (0.17 versus <0.01), as well as disproportionate use of housing and jail health services.

“Integrated data can serve as a systems improvement tool and help identify patients who might benefit from coordinated care management,” the authors write.

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