Urgent message: Urgent care plays a vital role in reducing medical expenses and improving population health by enabling the right care, at the right place, by the right provider, at the right price.
Health-care reform, quality of care, and costs are center stage topics for politicians and the general public. As medical providers and administrators in the United States, we share in the challenge of understanding this complex system. Whereas traditional approaches in the fee-for-service environment focused on “sick care,” population health promotes prevention and healthy lifestyles. Under discussion here are the assessment of previous health-care utilization patterns, allowing the prediction of future urgent care needs; understanding the critical need for integration of urgent care programs into health-care systems, allowing for reduction in costs and improved patient access; and reviewing new Medicare reimbursement models in relation to urgent care center fiscal stability and success. Care improvement through integration of urgent care centers will play a critical role in our future health-care environment.