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Global study identifies key areas for emergency department improvement


Research from Philips and the George Washington University School of Medicine & Health Sciences reveals unsustainable emergency department (ED) use in seven developed nations

August 23, 2017

Amsterdam, the Netherlands – Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA), a global leader in health technology, today announced the results of an international research study conducted with the George Washington University (GW) School of Medicine & Health Sciences evaluating the use of emergency departments (EDs) in seven developed nations. The paper, titled, “Acute unscheduled care in seven developed nations: a cross-country comparison,” compares the similarities and differences across nations with a focus on care delivery and the impact of socio-economic factors. Countries evaluated for the report include: Canada, the U.S., the U.K., the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany and Australia. The full report is available for download here.


Better access to primary care can result in lower ED Use

Combining public data with extensive, regional physician interviews, researchers from Philips and the GW School of Medicine & Health Sciences were able to highlight key insights from the seven countries studied. “There’s a belief that easy access to primary care can result in lower emergency department use,” said Mark Feinberg, Vice President and Managing Partner, leading Healthcare Transformation Services in North America for Philips. “However, as a result of this report, it is clear that even if people have easy access to primary care and full healthcare coverage, there is no guarantee the patients will make economically prudent decisions to seek the most appropriate medical care setting.”


More specifically, the findings of the report show Germany (22%) and Australia (22%) as having the lowest ED use, likely resulting from better (and faster) access to primary care—nearly two-thirds of Australians (58%) and three-quarters of Germans (72%) were able to make same or next day appointments with their primary care physicians (PCPs) compared to less than half of Americans (48%) and Canadians (41%).


In relation to readmissions, a metric used to determine the quality of care delivered, the U.S. showed the best performance for readmissions due to gaps in hospital or surgery discharge, discharge planning and transitional care. This, despite the fact it has the lowest compulsory insurance coverage. This could be attributed to the fact that the U.S. has instituted a number of programs with payment incentives proven to be effective in improving care transitions and reducing hospital readmissions. As a result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, for example, U.S. hospitals are now facing financial penalties if patients are readmitted to a hospital1.


Key areas for improvement

Taking the global data, researchers distilled their findings into a list of key areas impacting the way care is delivered in emergency settings. Making these observations actionable, researchers produced a list of the ten areas that cause these broad differences in available treatments, provider trainings and care quality across countries. Key takeaways include:


  • Social determinants (smoking, eating, violence, substance abuse and poverty) have a strong impact on the use of EDs.
  • Reduced access to health insurance results in poorer population health; placing a greater strain on emergency departments.
  • Sick patients do not make the most efficient decisions about when and where to seek medical care.
  • Extensive provider training is mandatory for effective delivery of acute unscheduled care.
  • Quality measures for EDs are immature and not standardized.


“In looking at the way emergency departments are used around the world, we were able to obtain valuable new insights to help improve care delivery,” said Jesse Pines, MD, MBA, MSCE and Director of the GW Center for Healthcare Innovation and Policy Research at the GW School of Medicine & Health Sciences. “Because of research findings presented in this report, all emergency departments (no matter their location) have the opportunity to efficiently improve the way care is delivered in emergency department settings.”


To access the complete report, please visit: Acute unscheduled care in seven developed nations: a cross-country comparison. For more information about emergency department use rates and to hear what healthcare professionals can do about it, please join the upcoming webinar on Sept. 8, 2017 from 11:30 am –12:30 pm ET co-hosted by Philips Blue Jay Consulting and the Urgent Matters team from the GW School of Medicine & Health Sciences. To register, please visit: Webinar: Acute unscheduled care in seven developed nations: a cross-country comparison.


1 S. Thompson, R. Osborn, International Profiles of Health Care Systems, 2013, The Commonwealth Fund, November 2013.

For further information, please contact:

Kathy O’Reilly

Philips Group Press Office

Tel.: +1 978 659 2638


Twitter: @kathyoreilly


Lisa Anderson

GW School of Medicine& Health Sciences Media Relations

Tel.: +1 202 994 3121

About the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences:

Founded in 1824, the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) was the first medical school in the nation’s capital and is the 11th oldest in the country. Working together in our nation’s capital, with integrity and resolve, the GW SMHS is committed to improving the health and well-being of our local, national and global communities.


About Royal Philips:


Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA) is a leading health technology company focused on improving people's health and enabling better outcomes across the health continuum from healthy living and prevention, to diagnosis, treatment and home care. Philips leverages advanced technology and deep clinical and consumer insights to deliver integrated solutions. Headquartered in the Netherlands, the company is a leader in diagnostic imaging, image-guided therapy, patient monitoring and health informatics, as well as in consumer health and home care. Philips' health technology portfolio generated 2016 sales of EUR 17.4 billion and employs approximately 71,000 employees with sales and services in more than 100 countries. News about Philips can be found at

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