If current trends towards capitated care continue, the ED will become a pivotal arena for prevention efforts and health resource utilization. Until now, the financial incentives of health care have encouraged hospitalization and provision of services. The move towards capitated payment will substantially increase the incentive to prevent, rather than treat illness and injuries. As the portal of entry for 40 percent of U.S. inpatients and virtually all admissions, the emergency department can play a key role in monitoring system performance, identifying high-risk groups, reducing the need for expensive inpatient care, and evaluating the impact of prevention programs.
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