Flu Shot Coverage and Effectiveness—a Historical Perspective

Patients who heed your advice to get a flu shot and take common-sense measures to avoid spreading germs—regular, effective handwashing; cleaning common-use surfaces; staying home when they’re sick—are less likely to get the flu. That’s a given. What’s less clear in the midst of any flu season is how many of them do so (and at what point), and how effective the vaccine is for those who do receive it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released retrospective data on each of those questions. As they say in …
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If You Want Your Providers to Get a Flu Shot, Make It a Requirement

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has spelled out the best way to ensure providers who work in your urgent care center heed the advice they’re supposed to be giving patients (in short, Get a flu shot). It’s a simple one: Tell them they have to, and make it easy for them to. The CDC just released data for last year’s flu season on the influence of employer-imposed requirements to receive an influenza vaccination among healthcare personnel in hospitals, ambulatory care settings (which includes urgent care centers, in the …
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Urgent Care Visits Go Up (and Up, and Up) While Costs Remain Low vs the ED

The key question posed by the authors of an article published last month in JAMA Internal Medicine: How have patterns of care for low-acuity patients with acute conditions changed over time among a commercially insured population? The answer is, quite a lot—due largely (and much to the benefit of) urgent care. Working from 2008–2015 claims data supplied by Aetna, the researchers looked at utilization, inflation-adjusted price, and spending associated with approximately 20 million acute care visits per study year for acute respiratory infections, urinary tract infections, rashes, and musculoskeletal strains …
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Warning: The Future of Patient Engagement May Require Straying Beyond Your Comfort Zone

Urgent care has faced many challenges since its inception—starting with trying to get healthcare consumers and insurers to understand what it has to offer that’s different from a traditional primary care practice or the emergency room. Through true market evolution—we’re talking Darwin, here—that hurdle has helped separate the wannabes from the real innovators. The latter came to grasp that a patient-friendly approach would be one obvious attribute that could keep waiting rooms full and good word-of-mouth buzzing. Many who failed to grasp that also failed to stay in business. So, …
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Urgent Care Ownership: Corporations on the Rise, Physicians and Hospitals on the Decline

The urgent care industry—always revolutionary compared with other practice settings—is undergoing a revolution of its own. First, entrepreneurial physicians ruled the roost (recall the much-maligned and unfairly categorized “doc in a box”). Then, hospitals figured out they were missing the boat on the practice and financial benefits of the urgent care approach and began acquiring or building their own urgent care centers. As of 2016, though, corporate ownership is most prevalent, followed by physician and hospital owners, respectively. (Urgent care is not alone in this trend, by the way; the …
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