The yin and yang of urgent care has always been thus: Patients recognize the need and value—as demonstrated by their reliance on locations in their community—while the healthcare establishment looks askance and comes up with reasons why the old-school doctor’s office is just fine. The New York Post, of all things, illustrated that dichotomy by publishing two stories that were unrelated, other than the urgent care connection, in a single edition recently. The story that carried the headline “Urgent-care facilities have longtime critics who question the quality of their care” detailed complaints that “some of these walk-in centers are not meeting emergency-care standards.” It even quoted a spokesperson from the American Medical Association as saying some urgent care centers are “not in the public interest.” Looking past the obvious error that emergency care and urgent care are depicted as one and the same, the real “concern” is revealed later in the article, where the AMA flack complains there’s not enough communication between urgent care and a patient’s usual primary care provider. Fair enough, though the onus is not completely on the urgent care provider there. The second article underscores why urgent care isn’t going away, starting with its headline: “Urgent-care facilities are surging in popularity nationwide.” Putting the current marketplace value at $18 billion (though some inside the industry say it’s higher), this Post article quotes actual urgent care providers who know the true capabilities of urgent care providers to offer quality care at a lower price than the emergency room, and more conveniently than the ED and other physician-based settings. The problem identified in that article isn’t related to shortcomings in the urgent care model at all, but to the fact that insurers are slow in accepting urgent care as a distinct choice that has the potential to actually lower healthcare spending when utilized properly—something urgent care veterans would be hard pressed to call “news.”

Critics Doubt Urgent Care Quality—but Patients Seem to Disagree
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