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Posted: September 7th, 2023

Role of Emergency Departments in the Care Continuum Management

Role of Emergency Departments in the Care Continuum Management

Emergency departments (EDs) are often the first point of contact for patients with acute or life-threatening conditions. They provide timely and quality care to patients who need urgent medical attention, as well as referrals to other health services or specialists. EDs play a pivotal role in the care continuum management, which is the coordination and integration of care across different settings and levels of care [1].

The care continuum management aims to improve patient outcomes, reduce costs, and enhance patient satisfaction by ensuring that patients receive the right care, at the right time, in the right place, by the right provider [2]. EDs are key actors in this process, as they can:

– Identify and triage patients according to their acuity and needs, and initiate appropriate interventions or treatments [3].
– Communicate and collaborate with other health professionals, such as primary care providers, prehospital emergency services, hospital specialists, or community services, to ensure continuity and coordination of care [4].
– Monitor and evaluate patient progress and outcomes, and provide feedback and follow-up to patients and other providers [5].
– Educate and support patients and their families on their condition, treatment options, self-care, and preventive measures [6].

To perform these functions effectively, EDs need to adopt strategies to measure and improve their performance, such as using standardized indicators, implementing evidence-based interventions, involving patients in decision-making and education, and optimizing resource utilization [7]. Some examples of interventions that have been shown to improve ED performance are:

– Triage systems that prioritize patients based on their severity and urgency of care [8].
– Care transitions programs that facilitate the transfer of patients from the ED to other settings, such as hospital wards, observation units, or home care [9].
– Technology solutions that enhance information sharing, communication, documentation, and clinical decision support [10].
– Team composition changes that introduce new or advanced roles for nurses, pharmacists, scribes, or other allied health professionals [11].

EDs are an essential component of the care continuum management, as they provide critical care to patients with diverse and complex needs. By improving their performance and collaborating with other health services, EDs can contribute to better patient outcomes, lower costs, and higher satisfaction.


[1] Role and Function of the Emergency Department in a Boundaryless Hospital. In: Pfaff H., Schrappe M., Lauterbach K.W., Engelmann U., Marx M. (eds) Boundaryless Hospital. Health Services Research. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg. 2016.
[2] The continuum of critical care. Vincent JL. Critical Care volume 23, Article number: 122 (2019).
[3] Emergency Severity Index (ESI): A Triage Tool for Emergency Department Care. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. 2012.
[4] Improving Care Transitions Between Hospital and Home Health: A Home Health Model of Care Transitions. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. 2014.
[5] Emergency Department Quality Improvement: Transforming the Delivery of Care. American College of Emergency Physicians. 2018.
[6] Patient education in the emergency department: do patients receive educational materials? Griffey RT et al. Acad Emerg Med. 2009 May;16(5):442-7.
[7] Strategies to measure and improve emergency department performance: a scoping review. Austin EE et al. Scandinavian Journal of Trauma, Resuscitation and Emergency Medicine volume 28, Article number: 55 (2020). essay writing help
[8] The Manchester triage system provides good reliability in an Australian emergency department. Considine J et al. Emerg Med J. 2008 Aug;25(8):495-8.
[9] The impact of a dedicated emergency department observation unit on quality measures in patients with chest pain: a retrospective cohort study. Lee J et al. BMC Emerg Med 20, 88 (2020).
[10] The impact of health information technology on the quality of medical and health care: a systematic review. Alharthi H et al. Health Information Management Journal. 2019;48(2):62-76.
[11] The impact of scribes on emergency medicine doctors’ productivity and patient throughput: multicentre randomised trial. Walker KJ et al. BMJ. 2019 Feb 5;364:l121.

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