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An elderly lady who longer drives and has a scorching sore throat might be inclined to call an ambulance to take her to the emergency room. Clearly, it’s not an emergency but she’s got to see someone. In most places across the U.S. the end result will be a trip to the ED, which will have her waiting—for hours, maybe—and result in higher-than-necessary charges to Medicare. Under a new initiative in Seattle, however, it would be possible for her to contact the fire department, get connected to a nurse who is trained to assess the patient’s complaint, and wind up transported by the fire department to the appropriate care setting, whether that be the ED after all, an urgent care center, or some other location. The latest issue of JUCM features original research on a program of the same type. Read Reducing Low-Acuity Preventable Emergency Room Visits By Utilizing Urgent Care Center Services Via Mobile Health Unit Diversion Program to see what the prospects might be for such initiatives to reduce cost, increase patient satisfaction, and improve outcomes.

What Happens When Patients Don’t Need the ED but Can’t Get to Urgent Care? Here’s One Answer