Planning a freestanding ER? ASHE suggests focusing on life safety issues
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February 1, 2019
As health systems constantly seek ways to increase revenues while keeping costs down and dealing with ever-increasing pressures from accreditation agencies, it’s no wonder that they continue to look for alternative locations.
One of the biggest trends to emerge in healthcare facility construction is the “freestanding ER,” a facility that is separate from a hospital but generally provides the same emergency treatment expected at most full-service hospitals. Many of these facilities have begun springing up in parts of the country where costs have discouraged health systems from building entire hospitals, but where residents still need to be able to find doctors and emergency care. These areas include the mountains of Fort Collins, Colorado, and rural areas in Virginia where the population has grown but hasn’t yet justified the expense of a hospital.
As of 2016, there were more than 500 freestanding ERs across the country, according to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission. That translates to about one freestanding ER for every 10 hospitals today. These facilities are designed as either stand-alone outposts with no plans for expansion or as remote emergency departments (ED) intended for future growth. Most are the latter.