A recent post to the American Medical Association’s website acknowledges that the looming physician shortage could be very problematic for patients who already have a hard time managing diabetes, hypertension, and other chronic health concerns with the help of their primary care team. The solution, the piece suggests, is greater use of “team-based care” that would include PCPs, specialists, and nonphysician clinicians (eg, nurses and pharmacists), as well as nonclinicians. The choice of settings in which patients can find care in lieu of seeing their PCP is equally diverse, in the AMA’s view, and includes urgent care centers. It also suggests that hospital emergency rooms are a viable option, which appears to be a bit inconsistent with the overarching concern about physician shortages. Becker’s Hospital Review just published an article noting that hospitals in the United States are struggling with their own staffing issues, with some cutting services. While most scaling down their offerings have focused on labor and delivery or intensive care units, University Hospitals in Cleveland has ceased inpatient, surgical, and emergency services at two of its facilities. Urgent care operators would be wise to assess the status of hospital staffing at the local level and to ensure that hospital administrators are aware you’re ready to treat patients who might no longer be able to get the care they need in the ED.
AMA Is Concerned About the Physician Shortage—and Says Urgent Care Is Part of the Solution