Comparative effectiveness of care coordination interventions in the emergency department: a systematic review

Ann Emerg Med. 2012 Jul;60(1):12-23.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2012.02.025. Epub 2012 Apr 27.


Study objective: To conduct a systematic review on the effectiveness of emergency department (ED)-based care coordination interventions.

Methods: We reviewed any randomized controlled trial or quasi-experimental study indexed in MEDLINE, CINAHL, Web of Science, Cochrane, or Scopus that evaluated the effectiveness of ED-based care coordination interventions. To be included, interventions had to incorporate information from previous visits, provide educational services on continuing care, provide post-ED treatment plans, or transfer information to continuing care providers. Studies had to quantify information transfer or report ED revisits, hospitalizations, or follow-up rates. Randomized controlled trial quality was assessed with the Jadad score.

Results: Of 23 included articles, 14 were randomized controlled trials and 9 were quasi-experimental studies. Randomized controlled trial quality ranged from 2 to 3 on a 5-point scale. The majority of the studies (17) were conducted at a single center. Of nineteen studies that developed post-ED plans, 12 were effective in improving follow-up rates or reducing repeated ED visits. Four studies found paradoxically higher ED visit rates. Of 4 that used educational services for continuing care, 2 were effective. Of the 2 evaluating information transfer, 1 was effective. One study assessed incorporating information from other sites and found higher rates of information transfer, but utilization was not studied.

Conclusion: The majority of ED-based care coordination interventions focus on interfacing with outpatient providers, and about two thirds have been effective in increasing follow-up rates or reducing repeated ED utilization. Other types of interventions have shown similar effectiveness, but fewer have been studied.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Ambulatory Care / organization & administration
  • Comparative Effectiveness Research*
  • Continuity of Patient Care / organization & administration*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Patient Transfer