Picture a Medicare patient who needs to see a provider today. It’s not an emergency, but they can’t wait until next Monday, when their primary care doc can squeeze them in. The solution is easy: urgent care, right? The only wrinkle is, they don’t drive anymore. So, they call an ambulance whose only option is to deliver them to the ED even thought their complaint is nonemergent. They wait for hours as the cost mounts. Realizing the folly of that process, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation revealed a new payment model that could pave the way for ambulances to deliver more patients to urgent care centers. The Emergency Triage, Treat and Transport (ET3) model will make it possible for participating ambulance suppliers and providers to partner with qualified healthcare practitioners to deliver treatment in “alternative” destinations that include urgent care centers, as well as primary care offices. It will encourage a more sophisticated triage system for patients who dial 911, with the intent of routing them to the most appropriate setting for their condition. The ET3 model will have a 5-year performance period, with an anticipated start date in early 2020.
More Ambulances May Be Rolling Up to Urgent Care, Thanks to the Department of Health