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Physicians and patients alike have been vocal in their disapproval of Anthem’s policy of denying claims for emergency room visits that are ultimately declared nonemergent—the main criticisms being that it forces patients to self-diagnosis to some extent and that it ultimately may discourage patients from getting emergency care when they really do need it. Now the Indianapolis Recorder newspaper charges the policy is going to have the greatest negative impact on low-income patients, based on the presumption that urgent care centers tend to be more plentiful in higher-income communities. Anthem’sRead More

Posted On February 6, 2018By Stuart WilliamsIn Marketplace

NC Psychiatric Urgent Care Clinic Is Finding Its Footing

In September, we told you about an urgent care center in North Carolina that had committed to serving the immediate needs of patients with psychiatric and behavioral health concerns—but was struggling to attract enough patients. The staff was seeing fewer than 17 patients a week then; today, it’s closer to 50, halfway to their goal of serving 100 each week. Carolina Outreach just conducted an open house to celebrate its 6-month anniversary and to continue to educate the public about the services it offers. The center contracted with Alliance BehavioralRead More
The 2018 Recommended Immunization Schedule for Adults Aged 19 or Older from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) includes a couple of key changes especially relevant to urgent care providers who offer immunization services. As of now, among other updates, ACP recommends: Recombinant zoster vaccine (RZV; Shingrix) to prevent shingles in adults as follows: Two doses of RZV 2 to 6 months apart to adults age ≥50 years and older with competent immune systems regardless of a history of herpesRead More
An unknown man and woman delivered a second man with two gunshot wounds to an urgent care center in Kitsap County, WA last Friday—and then sped away, leaving law enforcement to wonder if they were simply good Samaritans, witnesses, or somehow involved in the shooting. The victim was treated in the urgent care center and then taken to a nearby hospital with non–life-threatening injuries. It remains to be seen how involved the urgent care center’s staff will be in the investigation. However, the intersection of civic duty, legal obligations, andRead More

Posted On February 5, 2018By Stuart WilliamsIn Legislation

Bill Could Raise the Need for Workplace Drug Tests

A proposed new law could increase employers’ reliance on contractors who conduct worker drug screens—such as urgent care providers who offer occupational medicine services—if passed by state legislators in Maine. The bill would give employers more power to order drug screens for workers by loosening probable-cause requirements and permitting employers to order a test after a single workplace mishap or other signs of impairment. The bill’s proponents say the laws on the books haven’t kept pace with diminishing restrictions against use of marijuana. They also don’t take into account theRead More
Three gigantic—and extremely wealthy—corporations are joining forces to try to lower what their leadership considers to be exorbitant healthcare costs. Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase say they’re forming an “independent healthcare company” specifically for their employees—more than a million people, though not all are in the U.S. The new entity will focus on technological solutions to lower costs, simplify coverage, and increase transparency in employee healthcare. Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffet says the triumvirate “does not come to this problem with answers, but we also do not accept it asRead More
Urgent message: Much has been written about the integration of occupational medicine into urgent care practice. However, doing so successfully requires consideration of many important factors. This is the first in a series of articles that will examine occupational medicine in the urgent care setting from the financial and practice management viewpoint, with the aim of guiding the urgent care decision-maker and practitioner in the best practices of business and clinical occupational medicine practice.  Max Lebow, MD, MPH, FACEP, FACPM Introduction Occupational medicine is a branch of preventive medicine. InRead More
New data show the market for companies that provide drug screen services—which would include urgent care operators who offer occupational medicine services—should grow at a 10.2% clip annually through 2022. By that time, the total market value would be $8.63 billion (up from $5.32 billion in 2017). The Drug Screening Market Report from ReportsnReports reasons that demand will continue to be driven by growing drug and alcohol consumption among workers, combined with increased enforcement of applicable laws, policies, and employer health initiatives. The report also indicates the drug screening marketRead More
The 2017–2018 influenza season doesn’t just seem long, thanks to the high volume of cases—and deaths—this year; it’s actually going to last longer than usual, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In fact, the CDC says flu season hasn’t even peaked yet; flu activity continues to be widespread in every state except Hawaii and has remained unchanged for 3 weeks—and indicator that the natural wane is still ahead of us. Nearly 12,000 patients have been hospitalized since October 1, and the death toll among children has risenRead More

Posted On January 30, 2018By Stuart WilliamsIn Industry

Mercy Stresses the Urgent Care Option as ED Volume Swells

Like many facilities across the country, Mercy Hospital in Fort Smith, AR wrestles with overcrowding in the emergency room, especially during flu season. In addition to higher patient volume, resources are further stretched due to staff calling in sick in greater numbers. The administration is dealing with the crisis by employing all available resources, including making the most of the flexibility of the urgent care model. Mercy has dedicated one location specifically to patients presenting with flu-like symptoms; this not only allows them to be seen faster, but also keepsRead More