Free-Standing ERs and Urgent Cares Work Together to Lower Cost & Increase Quality of Healthcare While Lowering Patient Costs

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Free-Standing ERs and Urgent Cares work together

Free-Standing ERs and Urgent Cares work together to offer patients fast and affordable healthcare. This article highlights the ways in which these two facilities increase patient’s access to care, heighten the Quality of patient’s care, and lower the cost of patient’s care. Both Free-Standing ERs and Urgent Cares are located in convenient locations which are close to patient’s homes.

Increasing Patient’s access to care

Free-Standing ERs offer consumers a more convenient alternative to Hospital based ERs for Emergency Medical Care. They are located closer to patient’s homes and have zero wait times. Having Emergency Care more readily available to consumers helps to minimize the damage that may occur to patients from Emergency conditions. This increased access to emergency care also decreases Patient Suffering by allowing for increase access to pain relief for conditions such as kidney stones and dislocated joints. Free-Standing ERs have far fewer patients than hospital based ERs and as a result patient’s risk of exposure to dangerous infections and exposure to medical errors is greatly reduced.

When emergencies arise it is always best to have treatment readily available. Unfortunately, most of the hospital based ERs are overcrowded and understaffed. Hospitals are also plagued by issues with being required to “board” admitted patients in their ER while awaiting hospital admission which greatly reduces the treatment space available to treat any new patients. When a hospital does not have space for the admitted patient then the patient will often stay in their ER for hours awaiting a hospital bed. I have seen patients waiting for admission for over 48 hours in hospital based ERs. Free-Standing ERs have the ability to admit patients to hospitals that have immediate space available for their patients. Patients of Free-Standing ERs are directly admitted to hospitals from the convenience of the Free-Standing ER which helps to alleviate the overcrowding present in hospital ERs by bypassing them.

Many consumers either do not have primary care physicians or do they have adequate access to primary care physicians. Urgent Cares greatly increase patients access to primary care. Like Free-Standing ERs Urgent Cares are located in convenient locations and offer extended hours. This increased access to primary care helps to allow patients to be treated before their condition becomes an Emergency.

Providing rapid care

Urgent Cares and Free-Standing ERs provide very rapid care without the need for scheduling appointments. Walk in patients are “treated and streeted” in less time than most patients typically spend waiting in hospital based ERs or primary care offices waiting rooms. Patients are often surprised at how quickly they are treated. Urgent Cares and Free-Standing ERs both enjoy the highest customer service ratings among healthcare facilities. No one likes to wait, especially someone in severe pain, or suffering from nausea. Patients with emergency conditions should not have to wait for hours in waiting rooms. Urgent Cares provide rapid and convenient primary care while Free-Standing ERs provide rapid and convenient Emergency Care.

Providing Services for Consumer Demand

Free-Standing ERs and Urgent Cares are responding to consumer demands by supplying healthcare with increased access and convenience of care. Many Urgent Cares and Free-Standing ERs are physician owned and as such are very responsive to consumer demands. Physician ownership irrefutably introduces free-market principles into consumer healthcare. With the physician owned models of both Urgent Care and Free-Standing ERs, Patient’s are given the control over the healthcare market. Patient’s should have control as they are the ones that are the customers. With Physician ownership the patient’s choices of how and where they seek medical care ultimately dictates how the market runs. This model has been shown to drive the cost of care down while driving the quality of care up. These “Free Market Principles” have also been observed with physician owned outpatient surgical centers and imaging centers.

Consumers are demanding higher quality and more affordable care. Both Urgent Cares and Free-Standing ERs are helping consumers obtain their demands. Lower cost of care, more convenient and higher quality are why these two types of facilities are flourishing in today’s healthcare market.

Common Goal

Both Urgent Cares and Free-Standing ERs exist to offer consumers the absolute best in available care. Urgent Cares offer a full range of primary care from work physicals, medication checks, routine health maintenance exams, to worker’s compensation medicine and sore throats. Free-Standing ERs are able to diagnose and treat all emergencies such as concussions, chest pain, abdominal pain, shortness of breath, broken bones, lacerations, trauma, stroke, kidney stones. It is the common goal of both Urgent Cares and Free-Standing ERs to offer patients high quality care while minimizing patient’s costs.

Sometimes patients may be unsure if they would be better served at an Urgent Care or a Free-Standing ER. As a result of this uncertainty sometimes patients will present to the wrong type of facility. Free-Standing ERs and Urgent Cares work together to lower patient’s costs and increase quality by referring patients to each other. Patients with medical problems that exceed the capabilities of the Urgent Care are sent immediately to the Free-Standing ER. Patients that present to Free-Standing ERs that have medical complaints that are better served in Urgent Cares are given the choice to be sent to an Urgent Care. It is important to understand that under EMTALA rules all patients that present to an ER are given a medical screening exam. So if patients present to a Free- Standing ER they will be provided a medical screening exam before being sent anywhere. After this exam they are able to determine if a patient may be safely treated by an Urgent Care.

The choice as to whether patients are better served at Urgent Cares or Free-Standing ERs can be very difficult. In fact, it may not be known until after the patient is diagnosed. For years this has been a concern amongst policy makers and insurers. The referral practices that are developing amongst Urgent Cares and Free-Standing ERs has been a welcome change for policy makers and insurers alike. For the first time ER doctors are now able to refer patients away from the expensive ER to Urgent Cares when appropriate and Urgent Cares can bypass duplicate patient work ups and send more severe patients directly to the Free-Standing ER. Urgent Care physicians and Free-Standing ER physicians are working together to become part of the solution to the high cost of healthcare. Physician ownership of both Urgent Cares and Free-Standing ERs is even more exciting for policy makers and insurers as they are now seeing the introduction of the same free-market principles that greatly reduced out patient surgery and out patient imaging center costs.

Free-Standing ERs and Urgent Cares are working together to heighten Quality and lower the Cost while supplying consumers with more convenient choices for healthcare. These two models of healthcare delivery are greatly reducing the overcrowding that is occurring in hospital based ERs. Healthcare systems are turning to Free-Standing ERs to supply the needs of their consumers. Physicians are behind this movement because it is allowing them to deliver better healthcare to their patients.

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