In a perfectly balanced system, patients who have nonemergent complaints would hop in the car and walk through the doors of an urgent care center shortly thereafter (and, most likely, be back home within the hour). If they truly had a more severe issue, they could go to a hospital emergency room uncluttered with people who don’t really need to be there. That ideal doesn’t necessarily reflect the actual options of many patients, however, as evidenced by a story recently featured on Nashville Public Radio. In short, a man in a rural patch of Tennessee suffered a gash to his knee while at work. He went to the emergency room and received six stitches—after which, thanks to his high-deductible health plan, he also received a $6,500 bill. Weeks later his wife developed symptoms they presumed were due to COVID-19 but, with the surprise bill fresh in her mind, she refused to go to the same ED that had treated her husband. She wound up at a public hospital hours away, where she was actually diagnosed with Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Thanks to IV fluids and antibiotics, she’s fine now but the outcome could have been much worse. The crux of the story is that patients shouldn’t be in the position of having to make such choices when there could be safe, efficient, less costly options available. This presents a golden opportunity for urgent care, as explained in a JUCM article entitled Rural and Tertiary Markets: The Next Urgent Care Frontier. You can read it now in our archive.
Poor Access Leaves Patients with Few Options for the Right Level of Care. Urgent Care Could Fill the Void