Developing Walk In and Urgent Care Centers

September 14, 2016

This is some information that I read (and I’m recounting here) from American Academy of Urgent Care Medicine:

The trend in developing walk in and urgent care centers is, in part, made available by medical malpractice insurance becoming more affordable for these kinds of organizations. Creating a structure that supports the 84 hour week of staffing and the unpredictable rosters are the signature of these organizations and the difference between immediate success and a longer-term and more expensive investment.

Future of Urgent Care

The growth and development of Urgent Care Medicine should be of no surprise ……This new form of health care / primary care is fueled by frustration over long waits in the emergency room (for non-emergency care), and a reduction in available primary care appointments (often resulting in patients waiting for weeks to see their primary care physician). Additionally, almost 20 years ago, this idea of affordable more accessible care was introduced to immediate success and continues today.

Since 2008, the number of urgent care facilities has increased from 8,000 to 9,300. The public’s desire for immediate access to medical care has been the driving force behind this monumental growth.

When insurers like The Doctors’ Company and Medical Insurance Exchange developed policies that provided a per incident limit and a roster schedule of named providers included in this policy; Immediately, the cost of malpractice insurance dropped in half if not down to 25% of the former cost. Suddenly these organizations could budget according to their projected number of consultations or patient visits rather than the unpredictable number of doctors or mid-level providers required to staff the week. And, with a claims made structure of the past, every doctor or mid-level provider brought with it the looming and impending cost of tail on cancellation. The Combination of the schedule physician roster and the rolling tail endorsement makes these policies as affordable as a small group of family practitioners.

Equal in importance to proper and affordable rating, which is what happened when these medical malpractice policies developed premium, which is directly tied to the number of services, the type of services provided. The importance of understanding what causes claims and actively partnering with our policyholders can lead to a much more effective medical group and result in fewer claims against the physicians.

Many Urgent Care centers are now seeking Urgent Care Center Accreditation. Accreditation is a voluntary process through which an Urgent Care center is able to measure the quality of its services and performance against nationally recognized standards. Just like the American Board Certifications issued, The Accreditation certificate is a symbol to others that an organization is committed to providing high-quality care. Urgent care organizations value Accreditation as a measure of professional achievement and quality of care. The accreditation process is widely recognized as mandatory to the credible growth and success of any specialty in medicine. This is a time where patients are ‘clients’ of the health care organization and when deciding where to go for care, patients will look for social proof: Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, Google Plus and Yelp reviews are just some of the instant ways Urgent Care Centers can grow their client/patient base.

Accreditation is one of the benchmarks of quality; the ‘seal of quality’, an objective organization which affirms the attention to detail, training, quality healthcare services are up to date, regulated medical equipment and facilities enhances the appeal of an Urgent Care center to payers and employers. Also, health care providers who are being heavily recruited by other urgent care centers will have an edge if they carry that urgent care association seal of approval.

The Doctors’ Company studies Urgent Care Center Risk Management.

As an example of the timely information that TDC’s patient safety specialists published and shared with their many policyholders is this article explaining the importance of having protocol and careful planed out procedures regarding Zika Virus.

What Doctors Need to Know About Zika

By Dan Wright, JD, RN, Vice President of Patient Safety, The Doctors Company.

Physicians across the U.S. should practice vigilance to ensure patient safety and reduce risk of potential adverse events as we continue to learn more about the Zika virus. As of August 2, the Florida Department of Health has reported that there have been 14 confirmed Zika infections from mosquitoes in Southern Florida, and this number continues to grow.

Stay informed. Ensure you are staying abreast of Centers for Disease Control advisories. They are frequently updated, and you want to provide your patients with the most current information. Diagnosis of Zika is based on a person’s recent travel history, symptoms, and test results.

Watch for the symptoms. Tell-tale signs of Zika virus are an acute onset of fever, maculopapular rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis. For symptomatic pregnant women with exposure to Zika virus, testing of blood and urine is recommended up to 2 weeks after symptom onset. In addition, asymptomatic pregnant women should be tested if they have traveled to an area with Zika, live in an area with Zika, or have had sex without a condom with a man confirmed to have Zika virus infection. Document if the testing is declined.

For many patients, Urgent Care centers are the main place to go for care — especially on weekends or evenings when their primary-care physicians don’t have office hours. Only 29% of primary care doctors have after-hours coverage. Urgent Care centers are a boon for patients in other ways. The wait time to see a provider is typically half an hour or less, compared to a multi-hour wait time in many Emergency Departments. And patients can often see a doctor, as opposed to a nurse practitioner if they go to a retail clinic. Moreover, Urgent Care centers offer imaging and other services not found in retail outlets. Employers, insurers and other payers also benefit from urgent-care centers, which charge only a fraction of what an ED visit would cost. And employees can get back to work sooner instead of spending half the day in the ED.

The extended hours and immediate availability of care at Urgent Care centers provides convenience for patients in exactly this kind of situation; Discomfort, sudden fever, rashes, cuts, food allergy reactions and many other minor ailments happen at all hours. As the specialty of Urgent Care Medicine grows, the public is learning that Urgent Care is a better choice over the emergency room for their immediate, non-life-threatening healthcare needs.