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Community healthcare appointments as an alternative to emergency department assessment: an exploration of family acceptability and preferences

CJEM. 2023 Oct 18. doi: 10.1007/s43678-023-00605-z. Online ahead of print.


PURPOSE: Pediatric emergency departments are overcrowded, in part due to many non-emergent visits. We aimed to assess the proportion of parents interested in leaving the pediatric emergency department (ED) prior to physician assessment if they could be offered a scheduled community healthcare appointment. We explored differences in care children received in the ED stratified by interest in a community healthcare appointment and parents’ reasons when they were not interested.

METHODS: We conducted a 14-item survey within the pediatric ED at a Canadian tertiary care teaching hospital to assess parents’ interest if a program offered community healthcare appointments and we determined preferred appointment characteristics. All parents presenting with children triaged as CTAS 2-5 who met eligibility criteria were approached by a research assistant prior to physician assessment. Surveys were paired with the medical chart outlining the care received. Descriptive statistics and a regression model were used to describe characteristics of families and care received among those who were and were not interested in a community healthcare appointment.

RESULTS: In total, 403 surveys were completed. Overall, 236 participants (58.6%; 95% CI 53.8-63.4) were interested in a community healthcare appointment. In general, parents who were interested in a community healthcare appointment were younger and presented with younger children compared to those who were not interested. Among those interested, there was a preference to have the appointment with a pediatrician or family physician, timely access to an appointment, and appointments scheduled outside of regular business hours.

CONCLUSION: Our study provides evidence that there is interest in an alternative care access model positioned to reduce pediatric ED congestion. We found that parents would be interested in leaving the pediatric ED in favor of a community healthcare appointment, provided it was with a physician and available in a timely manner.

PMID:37851318 | DOI:10.1007/s43678-023-00605-z

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