Benefits of Visiting Urgent Care Facilities

When people aren’t feeling well, they may think that they have two options: wait days to get an appointment at their doctor’s office or rush to the emergency room for a condition that might not actually be an emergency. However, a third choice exists: they can go to urgent care facilities. While this may not be the ideal situation, urgent care facilities are accessible and beneficial in a number of circumstances.

Reduce Waiting Time

While urgent care facilities may still have a waiting period, a decision to visit such a practice is likely going to save time overall. When visiting the emergency room, patients often have to wait for hours before they are seen, especially if their situation is not high priority. Waiting to see a primary care physician may result in the individual’s condition worsening.

Meet Qualified Doctors

When individuals think of urgent care facilities, they may imagine doctors who aren’t able to get a job anywhere else. However, as urgent care facilities have improved, this thought is not necessarily representative of reality. Patients at such facilities still meet with real doctors and receive a diagnosis just as they would at their physician’s office. They may be asked to follow up with their primary care specialists in order to fully evaluate the situation in terms of their long-term health, but the physicians at urgent care facilities are capable of diagnosing and treating patients.

Sooner Recovery

One of the major benefits of going to an urgent care facility is that patients can start to feel better sooner than they would if they had to wait for an appointment or to see a doctor in the emergency room. Urgent care facilities are able to assist with a number of issues. For example, if an injury has occurred, the doctors there might provide a recommendation or a referral for a physical therapist. When patients are dealing with illnesses, the doctors at urgent care facilities can write prescriptions. People sometimes have the misconception that going to an urgent care facility is not going to bring about a resolution, but that is not the case.

 

Urgent care facilities have a host of benefits to offer. Additionally, interested parties can sometimes even schedule appointments so that they don’t have to wait long in the office at all. Taking advantage of this type of practice can seriously help people who are suffering and either can’t meet with their doctors or don’t want to go to the emergency room.

 

The Vivid Pros and Cons of Freestanding Emergency Departments

Roger Stanmore MD, JDFreestanding emergency departments (FSED)  have proven to be the hot, new emergency care model, brandishing all of the expensive, life-saving equipment of traditional emergency rooms.

With that said, some are concerned that these 24-hour facilities, which offer on-site laboratory testing and diagnostic imaging, concentrate their services in high-income areas, predominantly servicing those with private insurance, rather than those with Medicaid.

Nothing stands still. Not time, not emergency care medicine. The surge and gains with regards to freestanding urgent care centers and emergency departments is a mark of progression, signifying the fact that the future of emergency care medicine is happening now. The economics of emergency medicine make sense for a number of communities, making emergency and ambulatory care more accessible.

Freestanding EDs are defined by the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) as “a facility that is structurally separate and distinct from a hospital and provides emergency care.” There are two types of ownerships for these facilities: hospital outpatient departments (HOPD), which are owned and operated by medical centers, and independent freestanding EDs (IFECs).

Sources suggest that there are 10,000 urgent care centers, 5,000 hospital emergency departments, 5,000 ambulatory surgery centers, 2,800 retail clinics, and the 500 freestanding EDs. These functions have been enabled by technology and consumer preference, and ideally, both insured and uninsured parents are immunized from overbearing out-of-pocket debt that’s usually due following a visit to the standard emergency department. More than a visit costing about a third of emergency room costs, the wait time is also significantly shorter.

The freestanding ED has gained momentum in recent years, and this can be contributed to the fact that these facilities tend to be open 24/7. They’re equipped with CT scanners, labs, x-rays machines, and sophisticated diagnostic equipment than urgent care centers.

With that said, these facilities have been accused of precluding poor and non-white communities. These standalone ER facilities tend to be located in affluent, growing communities with high incomes, and often welcomes cherry-picked patients with private insurance. FSED have roused concern and criticism due to the fact that this particular type of care access blooms in areas that has higher annual spending, fewer minorities, and diminished need for emergency care access.

“In the states with the most freestanding EDs, it seems less likely that they will expand access to underserved populations,” corresponding author Jeremiah Schuur, M.D., vice chair, Clinical Affairs, Department of Emergency Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said in a statement, “as they are preferentially located in areas where people had more available health services, higher rates of private health insurance, lower rates of Medicaid and higher median incomes.”

The lowered rates of Medicaid users can be attributed to the fact that only HOPDs are able to bill for Medicare patients, influencing the cause for independent facilities to seek out those who are privately insured. On the most part, FSEDs exist in Texas, Colorado, and other states that don’t require a certificate of need.

Expanding nationwide, freestanding emergency departments are equipped to care for those in need of cardiovascular stress test as well as anything from chest pain, asthma attacks, allergic reactions, seizures, gastrointestinal bleeding, infections, and other conditions traditionally cared for at hospitals. FSED have helped to decrease admission at emergency rooms and lower costs nationally. Some researcher suggest that this effort could be furthered if FSED partnered with medical home models and feel the need for community-based medical care.