WellPoint ushers patients to ER alternatives

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WellPoint and its affiliated health plans have created an online education program to help consumers find the closest participating emergency room alternatives, Health News Digest reported this week. The website, which can be found by searching for the health plan name and "urgent care," helps members decide when they should go to the ER or use an alternative provider such as an urgent care clinic.

"Current data show that the highest rates of avoidable ER use are among people age 34 and younger--those who are less likely to have a primary care physician but more likely to be technology consumers," said Dr. Manish Oza, a WellPoint medical director and ER physician who helped develop the program. "We developed Google Maps in the states where our affiliated health plans are located and create online advertising because that's where so many people go for information when they're deciding whether to go to the ER or not." Article