What is Convenient Care and What are its Benefits?
Convenient care is a new model of healthcare, that offers both urgent care and emergency room services at the same location. This hybrid model of healthcare combines urgent care and clinics with emergency services, so patients can be routed to the appropriate treatment. For conditions like headaches and stomach aches, which are urgent but not life threatening, walk in urgent care clinics provide medical care without a long wait for an appointment. Having an emergency room at the same location makes it easier to treat life threatening conditions like heart attacks, strokes and serious injuries when necessary.
The urgent care and clinics model of healthcare
The number of walk in urgent care centers is growing in the U.S. The total number now stands at around 9,300 stand alone centers and another fifty to a hundred are added every year. Urgent care and clinics treat conditions like fever, headaches, cuts and minor injuries and illnesses. They have quaffed staff, convenient locations and extended hours.
For conditions where the patient needs to see a doctor right away without waiting weeks for an appointment, the walk in clinics offer quality medical services without the wait. Urgent care medicine is a fast growing new medical field, with 20,000 practitioners. These walk in centers also eliminate the need for trips to the emergency room, unless the patient is suffering from a life- threatening condition.
Emergency services and urgent care
The hybrid model of healthcare offers both emergency services and urgent medical care at the same location, so patients can be directed to the suitable treatment. There are about 110 million emergency room visits each year.
Many of these could be treated at urgent care centers as well, at lower cost.
A study by the RAND Corporation conducted in 2009 found that as many as 14 to 27% of all emergency room visits could be treated just as well at urgent care and clinics. For patients, the benefits include short waiting times and lower bills. The RAND study estimated that properly routing urgent care cases, instead of sending them to the emergency services, could save up to $4.4 billion each year in medical bills.
Urgent care can handle most cases
Except for life threatening conditions like chest pains and shortness of breath, most illness and injuries can be treated at urgent care and clinics. As of 2011, urgent care clinics saw 342 patients a week on average. The weekly average was increasing by 28 new cases every month.
Urgent care centers can handle most cases, at a lower cost than treatment in an emergency department. The avenge cost of an urgent care visit is around $103, compared to $302 per patient in an emergency room. Another advantage for patients is that urgent care centers typically have very short waiting times, less than half an hour, to see a qualified doctor. Compared to the long and stressful wait at the ER, this is a much better choice for patients.
The emerging hybrid model of healthcare, appropriately known as convenient care, has both emergency services and urgent care at the same location. Patients are routed to the appropriate treatment, for greater efficiency and lower costs. With all these advantages, the model of convenient care is set to grow and provide primary healthcare to a larger section of the population.