Part of the reason why emergency departments visits are increasing is that the population is getting older and their medical conditions far more complicated.  Far more complex then can be handled in a 15 minute visit to their primary care physician.Therefore it doesn’t surprise me that the more complicated patients are referred to the emergency department where they can receive a proper evaluation.

The origin of the 15-minute visit is capitalistic, money tied to a clock. Unlike the psychotherapeutic “hour,” which has shrunk to 45 minutes, the length of the average primary-care visit has held steady. It remains driven by arbitrary 20th-century insurance service codes, based on diagnostic complexity, that dictate physician payment. Visits involving minor problems or their follow-up care are rightly brief.

Source: When medical care is delivered in 15-minute doses, there’s not much time for caring – The Washington Post