Impact of mailing information about nonurgent care on emergency department visits by Medicaid beneficiaries enrolled in managed care.Am J Manag Care. 1999 Dec; 5(12):1505-12.AJ
Emergency department services may be used more appropriately if laypeople's knowledge of managing minor medical problems could be enhanced, especially since Medicaid applies a "prudent layperson" standard for providing access to emergency care.
To investigate the effect of mailing a booklet, First Look, that informed Medicaid beneficiaries about care of common nonurgent conditions and encouraged use of alternatives to emergency care including care by office-based physicians, telephonic nursing assistance, and self-care.
A randomized, parallel group study.
PATIENTS AND METHODS
Administrative data from 2 health plans serving urban Medicaid populations were used to identify households with a history of emergency department utilization (n = 3101 and n = 3822). Within each health plan, households were randomly assigned to receive First Look. The number of emergency department visits during 6.5 months of follow-up was the primary study endpoint.
Compared with controls, 1% fewer members of households that were mailed First Look visited an emergency department in each health plan (23% versus 24% in Plan A; 27% versus 28% in Plan B). The 95% confidence intervals on the observed differences were -3% to 1% and -4% to 1% in Plans A and B, respectively. The proportion of emergency department visits for conditions discussed in First Look was not significantly reduced in households that were mailed the booklet (62% versus 60% in Plan A and 51% versus 48% in Plan B).
Mailing First Look to Medicaid beneficiaries did not have a significant effect on use of emergency departments. Medicaid programs need to evaluate other, perhaps more multifaceted, interventions to promote appropriate use of emergency departments.