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Reducing Unnecessary ED Visits Can Lead to Significant Cost Savings: How Behavioral Health Can Help

Emergency departments (EDs) have the potential to experience over $4 billion in annual cost savings if adequate mental health resources continue to grow in communities across the nation, notes a recent American Journal of Managed Care (AJMC) report.

However, to achieve these cost savings, patients in need of behavioral health treatment will need to veer away from ED visits as they place additional strain on an already stretched resource. These avoidable visits also serve as a costly form of care – racking up an estimated $8.3 billion annually.1

Learn how reducing avoidable ED visits can improve hospital and patient outcomes, and why behavioral health integration is a critical first step.

The AJMC report goes on to state that avoidable ED visits often occur due to a patient’s inability to access appropriate behavioral health care in another setting – whether it be due to physical access or financial barriers – forcing them to admit to an ED that is not necessarily equipped to take on their unique needs.

This can be seen in a CDC report that notes patients with mental health disorders experience more ED visiting lasting four hours or longer compared to patients without mental health disorders.2 This is due in part to an ED’s lack of extensive resources within the behavioral health space, which ultimately pushes them to transfer behavioral health patients to another care setting – taking up time and resources for patients in need of ED-specific treatment.

Importance of behavioral health for improved patient and ED outcomes

Implementing a behavioral health program enables hospitals to provide comprehensive care to members in their community devoid of an initial ED admission – improving the patient experience and outcomes, as well as reducing the risk of readmission and costs associated with an ED visit.1

Additionally, when a behavioral health program is present alongside other post-acute services, such as inpatient rehabilitation, those experiencing both mental and physical illnesses can receive prompt treatment without the need for transfer.

To help maintain a successful program, many hospitals are finding benefit in partnership, as building and managing a successful behavioral health unit or hospital can be difficult while also focusing on other core service lines.

Contact us today to learn why partnership may be the best solution to help address the growing behavioral health need in your community, and how your local ED can begin to see cost savings.


  1. Mulrooney, L. (2022, December). Reducing "avoidable" ed visits for mental health could cut billions in costs, improve patient outcomes. AJMC. Retrieved January 19, 2023, from
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, December 9). Emergency Department Visits Among Adults With Mental Health Disorders. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved January 19, 2023, from,adults%20without%20mental%20health%20disorders.

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