The New Hybrid Medical Center Emergency-Trained and Urgent Care Doctors Under the Same Roof
The United States’ hospital emergency rooms continue to be over-crowded with patients waiting to be seen for non-life-threatening conditions, such as minor injuries and illnesses. Recent figures show that there are roughly 110 million visits made to the country’s emergency rooms on an annual basis. While a large percentage of these visits are obviously necessary, some of the issues that people present with at hospital emergency rooms could easily be addressed at an urgent medical care center instead.
Over recent years, there have been several studies that have explored this issue in great detail. A private study conducted by Milliman, for example, showed that roughly 44% to 65% of the emergency room episodes that they evaluated could have been treated at an urgent medical care center. When considering the number of annual emergency room visits, this comprises a large percentage of people that could receive care at a lower cost and in less time.
Truven Health Analytics released a report with similar findings. This firm also addressed the issue of consumer-sponsored health insurance coverage for non-emergency conditions. This includes those conditions which could be prevented by seeking outpatient care. The report showed that over 70% of the reasons for these individual emergency-room visits could have been easily treated or prevented by visiting an urgent medical care center.
As previously mentioned, there is a definite cost difference between being seen at a traditional hospital emergency department versus a walk-in urgent care clinic. This is particularly the case when someone has an issue that could be treated at an urgent care facility. While the average cost of receiving care at an emergency room is usually $2,039.00, being treated for the same issue would just cost about $226.00. In terms of urgent care insurance reimbursements, this would be roughly $103.00 per visit. The average insurance reimbursement for a hospital emergency department visit, however, would be approximately $302.00. For those without insurance, emergency room visits can be quite costly.
Since about half of all urgent care centers are owned by either a physician or a group of physicians, patients will be able to receive quality medical care and access to a wide range of services. They will also have convenient access to care, as most of these facilities are open throughout the entire week and do not require advanced appointments. Patients will not need to wait very long to see a physician or mid-level practitioner, such as a physician’s assistant. Approximately 60% of these urgent care centers only have a 15 minute or less waiting time. Furthermore, 65% always have a physician on the premises to evaluate and treat patients.
On average, an urgent care clinic will have seven exam or treatment rooms. The American Academy of Urgent Care Medicine reported that on-site physicians will usually see 4.5 patients an hour. This does depend, however, on the issues being presented by patients. In some instances, a patient may be experiencing a severe or acute condition, such as trouble breathing. In instances such as these, physicians will need to spend a longer period of time assessing and providing treatment recommendations for these patients.
It’s also important to note that there are hybrid facilities available. These combined walk-in urgent care centers are under the same roof as an emergency room. Given the availability of these hybrid facilities, patients that may not be aware whether they should go to an urgent care clinic or an emergency room can be directed to the most-appropriate facility.