With alarming, simultaneous increases in cases of influenza and respiratory syncytial virus and the future of COVID-19 cases unclear, we can expect heavy patient volumes in urgent care centers over the coming months. While urgent care is known for its efficient way of providing excellent care, systems in place to keep patient flow on point will be put to the test. Some urgent care centers are already altering their norms in response. UnityPoint Health in Des Moines, IA, for one, has implemented a new procedure in which patients are required to have an appointment to see a provider. As noted in an article in the Des Moines Register, the urgent care operation is mandating that all patients schedule their visit online before arriving at the location. The idea, of course, is not only to keep things moving at a good clip but to reduce the number of sick people congregating in the waiting room, potentially infecting each other with any of the viruses in high circulation. Patients who find they need to see someone late in the day or after closing can secure next-day appointments starting at 9 pm each night. There are other approaches to maximizing efficient patient flow, of course. Some of them are discussed in Smoothing Ebb-and-Flow for Greater Staff Efficiency and Shorter Wait Times in Urgent Care, currently available in the JUCM archive.
Packed Waiting Rooms May Require Creative Solutions