This project was developed to address two broad objectives. First, we explored the extent to which the use of emergency departments is covered by fee-for-service payments to physicians routinely collected at the individual (patient) level through existing administrative data systems. The purpose of this was to both develop a methodology for identifying services provided in EDs across the province and to answer questions about the validity of the available administrative data in describing ED use. The ability to create such a definition of ED services based on routinely collected (and linkable) administrative data would provide a rich source of information on an important aspect of health care service utilization even in the absence of a dedicated, province-wide emergency department information reporting system.
Second, we used the ED data available to provide a broad-brush description of users of using EDs in BC, and how this use fits with their use of other ambulatory services. In summary, we:
1. Estimated the completeness of ED use captured in current administrative data sources, by combining information from FFS payments to physicians, ambulance data and hospital admission data, and comparing numbers of service encounters to a 'gold standard' provided by the Ministry of Health.
2. Described the use of EDs (as reflected in current data) by Local Health Area (LHA) of the province.
3. Described the current users of EDs in British Columbia by age, sex, and use of other ambulatory health care services.