Hospitalizations are common and costly, representing the largest share of health care spending in the US at over 30% of national expenditures. Understanding the emergency department's (ED) role in contributing to hospitalizations would substantially improve the health and quality of care for patients requiring emergency services. The ED is now the chief source for hospitalizations in the US, and emergency providers currently determine if a patient requires hospitalization 400,000 times a day in 5,000 EDs, resulting in 20 million annual admissions. Yet despite this crucial role, ED hospitalization practices have been largely overlooked as a circumstance where unwarranted variation may exist. Emerging evidence suggests admission decisions may be, in part, discretionary and influenced by non-clinical factors. Rigorous confirmation of these preliminary findings would have enormous implications for the quality and cost of care given that the downstream effects of hospitalization are considerable. Understanding sources of variation in ED hospitalization practices is the first step towards reducing unnecessary admissions while simultaneously reducing potentially harmful discharges from the ED. To date, the causes of variability in ED hospitalization practices across clinical conditions and its consequences for patient outcomes and health care spending has not been extensively examined. The research proposed in this application is designed to advance the science in understanding the costs and consequences of variation in ED hospitalization practices for the US public. With the help and guidance of his mentorship team, this proposal is also intended to support the continued career development of Dr. Keith Kocher, an extremely promising emergency physician and clinician- investigator, within the field of emergency care health services research. During the period of support, he will pursue didactic instruction in several disciplines, including doctoral-level courses in advanced statistical and econometric methods, health care organization, and health policy. He will also pursue a health policy fellowship designed for health services researchers to explore and strengthen the connections between public policy and their research as well as develop critical leadership and advocacy skills. The research plan has three related specific aims.
Aim 1 will determine the patient clinical and hospital factors associated with variability in ED hospitalizations.
Aim 2 will determine how patient non-clinical factors influence variability in ED hospitalizations.
Aim 3 will evaluate the effect of ED hospitalization patterns on outcomes and costs. This work will provide the applicant critical skills to advance as an independent investigator within emergency medicine health services research and lay the foundation for projects aimed at improving emergency care delivery for all Americans.

Public Health Relevance

Hospitalizations are common and costly, representing over 30% of national health expenditures, the largest share of health care spending. Most people are now admitted to the hospital through the emergency department (ED). Whether a patient is admitted from the ED may depend on factors that do not always have to do with the medical aspects of their care, but could also be related to their socioeconomic status or characteristics of the hospital caring for them. As a result, there are substantial differences in how hospitalization decisions are made by emergency physicians. This research project seeks to understand why these differences exist and what they mean for patients' experience of care, risk of death, likelihood of returning to the hospital, and cost across common and important medical conditions. This knowledge will ultimately help us improve the delivery of emergency care for the US public.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)
Clinical Investigator Award (CIA) (K08)
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HSR Health Care Research Training SS (HCRT)
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Anderson, Kay
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University of Michigan Ann Arbor
Emergency Medicine
Schools of Medicine
Ann Arbor
United States
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Everson, Jordan; Kocher, Keith E; Adler-Milstein, Julia (2017) Health information exchange associated with improved emergency department care through faster accessing of patient information from outside organizations. J Am Med Inform Assoc 24:e103-e110
Venkatesh, Arjun K; Mei, Hao; Kocher, Keith E et al. (2017) Identification of Emergency Department Visits in Medicare Administrative Claims: Approaches and Implications. Acad Emerg Med 24:422-431
Sabbatini, Amber K; Kocher, Keith E; Basu, Anirban et al. (2016) In-Hospital Outcomes and Costs Among Patients Hospitalized During a Return Visit to the Emergency Department. JAMA 315:663-71
Kocher, Keith E; Ayanian, John Z (2016) Flipping the Script - A Patient-Centered Approach to Fixing Acute Care. N Engl J Med 375:915-7