Utica, NY (WIBX) - Excellus BlueCross BlueShield is partnering with the Medical Societies of Herkimer and Oneida counties, in an effort to reduce unneeded emergency room visits and keep costs down.

The group is launching television and radio advertisements, urging people with minor ailments to visit their doctor first, before going to the E-R.

Dr. Suresh Sharma, Director of the Herkimer County Medical Society, says patients need to educate themselves.

"Emergencies are emergencies," Sharma said. "Non-emergencies should be handled as primary care office visits."             

According to the group, more than 700,000 E-R visits last year may have been avoided.