A new heathcare model of convenient care brings together emergency care and urgent care facilities under the same roof. This allows patients and their caregivers to be directed to the appropriate treatment, and prevents overburdening the emergency department. Not only is this a more rational use of the available medical facilities, it also streamlines costs, directing non-emergency cases to urgent care, which costs less. This hybrid model of care is becoming more and more popular as people and family medicine practitioners discover its benefits.
A hybrid model of healthcare
Urgent care, which is different from emergency treatment, is a fast growing field in the world of medicine. Most medical conditions, such as fevers, headaches, lacerations and minor illnesses can be treated in urgent care without recourse to expensive and time consuming treatment in the emergency department. Most family medicine cases can be seen in an urgent care center.
Because of their lower costs and other practical advantages, the number of urgent care centers around the country has been increasing steadily. There are currently around 20,000 physicians practicing urgent care and the number is likely to increase in the coming years. All together, there are around 9,300 walk-in, stand-alone urgent care centers across the country. Another 50-100 new clinics are added each year.
Lower costs of urgent care
Billing is an important aspect of medical treatment and hybrid care facilities can treat and bill both emergency and non-emergency treatments. This is very significant, since the cost for the same treatment in emergency rooms can be considerably higher than in urgent care.
For example, in 2009, a study by the Rand Corporation found that as many as 14 to 27% of emergency room cases could have been treated in Urgent Care centers or retail clinics. Given the differentials in pricing, this would have resulted in an annual saving up to $4.4 billion.
Practical benefits of urgent care
Urgent care centers can provide treatment at much lower cost than emergency rooms, for all kinds of non-emergency conditions and illnesses. They offer quality medical care from highly qualified physicians. The average patient-per-hour ratio is 4.5 patients per hour, as reported by the the American Academy of Urgent Care Medicine. This time may vary depending on the condition being treated, but is an indication of the quality of treatment.
Another benefit of urgent care clinics over emergency rooms is that wait times to see a doctor are typically very brief, and rarely longer than half an hour. This is much better than the long and stressful wait for treatment in an emergency room. Urgent care clinics also have extended and weekend hours, so patients don?t have to wait for weeks for a doctor?s appointment.
For all kinds of family medicine cases, urgent care clinics are a better choice than emergency rooms, unless the patient faces a life threatening situation. With lower costs, less waiting time and quality care, urgent care centers are becoming a popular choice with patients and medical practitioners. A hybrid model of healthcare services, which offers emergency and urgent care under the same roof, allows patients and caregivers to choose the appropriate facility.