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Health Action Council Launches New Awareness Campaign Designed to Reduce Non-Urgent Emergency Room Visits

Health Action Council (HAC), a not-for-profit, member-driven organization focused on improving the relationship between business and health, announces the launch of a national brand awareness campaign designed to address the rise in non-urgent emergency room (ER) visits.

“Find the Right Care at the Right Place at the Right Price” is the name of the campaign that educates people on the different types of healthcare options available to them. A dedicated website,, was created to help people quickly evaluate and compare the typical cost, typical wait time, and care for: Virtual Visits, Retail Clinics, Family/Primary Care Doctors, Urgent Cares, Emergency Rooms, and Urgency Centers. Website users can also match their condition to the most appropriate type of care. There is no cost, signup, or personal information required to use the website.

“Our objective is not to discourage anyone with a serious illness or injury from going to the ER,” said Patty Starr, Executive Director of Health Action Council. “However, it’s important that people understand there are other choices they should consider so that critical medical resources can be freed up to save lives,” Starr added. “We also want to help families eliminate the financial burden that ER visits can place on them. They are often not aware of how much a typical ER visit costs until the bill arrives in the mail.”

Emergency rooms are the most expensive type of care, averaging $1,700+ for a visit. In contrast, a retail clinic like Walgreens Express Clinic or CVS Minute Clinic visit averages $20-$100, and a virtual visit averages $40-$80. Wait times average 30+ minutes at the ER, 15-20 minutes at a retail clinic, and 20 minutes for a virtual visit.

In 2016, there were 136.9 million ER visits according to the CDC. Non-urgent care visits have grown steadily in the past decade with recent studies suggesting as many as 50% of total ER visits as being avoidable. Emergency room overuse is high across all payer groups at different income levels, but Health Action Council has identified mothers with young children and Millennials as being most prone to bypass more practical care options, instead heading straight to the ER for evaluation and treatment. For this reason, HAC is running a three-month digital ad campaign across multiple platforms and in several U.S. regions to reach these specific audiences.

The overuse of emergency rooms by patients affects everyone and contributes to ER crowding, longer wait times, overstretched services, a stressed ER staff, and increased costs. The costs negatively affect individuals, families, employers, and insurance companies. “Since emergency rooms are required to see any patient thinking they are in an emergency situation based on their symptoms and not by their diagnosis, there’s just not enough reason for people to avoid using them,” commented Starr. “But if they truly connect all the dots and look at all the information we are giving them access to, hopefully, they will explore new or different options the next time they need care,” Starr elaborated.

For fun article facts, if a person skips the ER and chooses a virtual visit they will have saved enough money to buy 794 Dunkin Donut coffees, 196 Blaze pizzas, 32 NBA tickets, or eight pairs of Ugg boots. Virtual visits are one of the newest healthcare offerings, truly bringing healthcare into the digital age and offering patients unmatched convenience. While patient adoption has been slow, it is rising. “Once people get past thinking that they need to be physically present in a doctor’s office and see just how simple virtual visits are, they are likely to keep using them,” said Starr. “Virtual visits are not only a cost-saving measure but a lifestyle choice, so they will naturally resonate with some groups more than others.”

For additional information regarding Health Action Council, please visit or call 216-328-2200.

About Health Action Council: Health Action Council is a not-for-profit organization representing mid-size and large employers that enhances human and economic health through thought leadership, innovative services, and collaboration. The organization provides value to its members by facilitating projects that improve quality, lower costs, and enhance individual experiences, and by collaborating with key stakeholders to build a culture of health.

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