Helpline Calls Associated With Preventable Emergency Department Utilization

Rachel Garg, Joseph T. Steensma, Alina A. Luke, Kristine Huang, Balaji Golla, Regina Greer, Karen E. Joynt Maddox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Introduction: Unmet social needs are linked with greater healthcare utilization, but most studies lack timely and granular data on these needs. The 2-1-1 helpline is a telephone helpline focused on social needs. The objective of the study is to determine whether the number of 2-1-1 requests per 1,000 people is associated with preventable emergency department visits and compare the strength of the association with another commonly used predictor, Area Deprivation Index. Methods: This cross-sectional study linked 2-1-1 requests to emergency department visits from uninsured and Medicaid-insured patients by ZIP code for a large urban hospital system from January 1, 2016 to August 31, 2019. Negative binomial regression analysis was used to estimate the association of 2-1-1 service requests and Area Deprivation Index with preventable emergency department visits. Results: A total of 233,146 preventable emergency department visits and 520,308 2-1-1 requests were analyzed. For every 1-SD increase in 2-1-1 requests per 1,000 population, preventable emergency department visits increased by a factor of 3.05, even after controlling for local area deprivation and other population characteristics (p<0.001). Conclusions: Requests to 2-1-1 helplines are strongly associated with preventable emergency department visits. This information may help hospital leaders and policymakers target social needs interventions to the neighborhoods with the greatest need.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)729-732
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Journal of Preventive Medicine
Volume61
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2021

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