May 3—Sicker, more complex Medicare patients are driving up the intensity of emergency department (ED) care, according to an American Hospital Association report. From 2006 to 2010, the average severity of illness for Medicare fee-for-service (FFS) beneficiaries treated in the ED increased by 9 percent.

The report, based on an analysis of Medicare claims data conducted by The Moran Company, indicates that the number of ED services provided to Medicare FFS beneficiaries is growing and patients’ needs are shifting toward services that demand the use of more resources. The report also shows an increase in the number of ED visits that include outpatient observation services.

EDs also are serving more Medicare patients with behavioral health diagnoses and more patients enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid, according to the report.

Publication Date: Friday, May 03, 2013