Should Urgent Care Centers Embrace Telemedicine?

1024px-Telemedicine_ConsultWhile urgent care providers view telemedicine as a threatening competitor, which could siphon patients from their customer base, the urgent care institution Doctors Care doesn’t feel that way. Embracing the ever-popular “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” philosophy, Doctors Care has chosen to increase its use of telemedicine to offer its patients more options when they’re receiving care.

With 55 facilities across Tennessee and South Carolina, Doctors Care is expanding what it offers its client base, beginning with an investment in technology. The company uses communication systems already in place and existing information in order to offer patients supplemental services. Doctors Care doesn’t worry that telemedicine may divert patients from their brick-and-mortar facilities.

Looking at the model from the perspective of a consumer, officials offering non-medical support services saw the value of providing care to patients in a way that speaks to current trends and the future. Since 2013, Doctors Care has been examining telemedicine and gauging how these services would be incorporated into standing services. The company acknowledged that wait time at some of its urgent care sites could be three hours or more while other location had absolutely no wait time.

Equipping facilities with telemedicine capabilities makes it possible for individuals visiting crowded sites to be seen remotely or immediately, in order to ease numbers in these busier waiting rooms, acting as a load balancing approach. Doctors Care operators found that patients frequently opted to be examined remotely, with medical assistants or nurses administering these examinations. Furthermore, the technology makes so that an all-in-one camera supports dermatological examinations of the nose, ear, throat, eye, or skin, as well as an otoscope. Physicians are also equipped with Bluetooth-enabled stethoscopes, and patients are able to receive X-ray procedures and labs at presentation sites.

Doctors Care builds on existing telephone and network infrastructure to support their telemedicine initiative. This has helped the company to achieve some of its key goals, which are increasing patient satisfaction and reducing patient wait time. By doing this experiment, operators found that many patients prefer telemedicine, regardless of wait time at facilities. This is perfect for conditions that don’t require on-site examination, particularly those for upper respiratory illnesses, fever, ear infection, sore throat, sinusitis, eye infection, life infection, and mild skin conditions. The telemedicine features also include direct-to-consumer consultations. The company spent just $50,000 to expand telemedicine capabilities.

Urgent care is a viable alternative to the emergency room, and provider should be treating conditions or injuries just short of ER needs. Telemedicine is important for low-touch, non-emergency care, and it could enable facilities to offer more care in more venues, in the way of occupational health, specialists, or help operators. Telemedicine being marketed directly to consumers is somewhat new, nonetheless, it treats a subset of patients who have conditions suited for direct-to-consumer medicine.

Some will continue to believe that telemedicine poses a challenge while other urgent care centers will embrace telemedicine wholly.

Urgent Care or the Emergency Room, Which One Should You Visit?

16288-a-female-doctor-examining-a-patient-pvStrangely enough, there are still large populations of people within the U.S. who are totally unaware of the presence of urgent care facilities. Not only that, but many individuals who are aware of urgent care facilities are totally oblivious to the differences between urgent care and the emergency room.

It’s not unusual to watch someone rush off to the emergency room after discovering a new episode of illness or after one has injured oneself. However, depending on the nature of the emergency, there are different places that individual should visit. For a long time, the emergency room was the only option the public in case of an emergency or when a primary care physician was unavailable. However, there’s a new option available to the public now, urgent care.

While primary care physicians and emergency departments are foundations for the healthcare system, urgent care center have unveiled their value by offering convenient, time-efficient and inexpensive service during evening hours and at night. Urgent care facilities are able to see and assist patients with non-life threatening conditions who require care. Emergency rooms were designed to treat critical conditions such as broken bones, deep gashes or similar emergencies. Urgent care facilities were designed to treat vital, but non-threatening health issues.

Emergency rooms will always remain essential, but being seen there will always be an obstacle because the emergency room is obliged to see everyone. By law, emergency rooms are tasked to care for everyone, 24-hours-a-day and seven days a week. You don’t have to have an emergency to be seen there, and there’s a mandate that requires them to evaluate all patients and ensure that they’re safe enough to go home. 

Emergency waiting rooms become crowded because people want access to that acute-care and the numerous services. The emergency room is definitely the place to go if you require a cardiologist or a neurosurgeon, but urgent care center are more appropriate when you seeking physicians and nurse practitioners who can care for less serious issues.

Because urgent care facilities don’t offer quite as many services as the emergency room, it’s more cost-effective. The effective, low-cost facilities accept most forms of major insurance and they offer affordable pricing to those without insurance. Urgent care facilities are equipped to care for an earache, sore throats, sinus infection pink eye, fever, stomach flu, colds and upper respiratory infections. Also, they’re able to offer treatment for broken and sprains, stitches, and labs, x-rays, IVs, and EKGs. However, you should seek out emergency care if one has complex health issues related to high blood pressure, diabetes and kidney issues, or a stroke or chest pains, patient’s are asked to visit their local emergency room.

If you don’t know if you should venture to the emergency room or the urgency room, consider your level of pain or discomfort, as well consider the services you may require. Also, if you choose to visit an urgent care facility, know that you don’t need to make an appointment, and you will likely be in and out within an hour. Also, physicians at urgent care facilities are able to prescribe medicine.

Health Law Responsible for Direct Primary Care Interest?

Direct Primary Care, Roger Stanmore

Health law has apparently “inspired” concierge medicine to access new markets, namely primary care physicians via direct primary care.

According to recent news, there’s been a firm rise in primary care doctors opting to select “health care for billionaires” as a career option. Primary care physicians named frustrations with insurance requirements and federal health law companies as the reason they’re stepping away from Medicaid, Medicare, and middle-income populations.

The direct primary care mimics “concierge” practices, which increased in popularity over the last two decades. The particular law that sparked discontent is the 2010 health law requiring that most patients have insurance. That discontent is paired with an apparent desire to give more care that’s more convenient for them, which has drawn physicians away from traditional practices. There are now more than 400 group practices, while there just a handful existed prior to 2010. Many regard the law as an “open-for-business’ sign for direct primary care industry’s, leading doctors to join this movement.

The American College of Physicians has encouraged doctors to consider how poorer patients may be affected by the individualized work while direct primary care doctors insist that they see patient across incomes. Advocates are popping up. all over the United States.

New Jersey state employees, such as teachers and firefighters, will participate in a pilot plan that will utilize direct primary care, allowing participants to select a primary care physician as well as a primary care-style, granting around-the-clock access to primary and preventative care services. Aetna and Horizon will administer the plan, making it available to the 800,000 eligible residents.

There’s a lot to be said about health care, health insurance and the network of doctors, primary care physicians, and specialists that work within that realm. Many of these doctors are resistant to standing practices because they feel the current policies place hours of troublesome insurance paperwork in the path of health advocacy. They also feel that this leads to additional cost spent on overhead, leading to increased costs. In the mind of many, the cost of comprehensive primary care and basic medication made available through direct primary care is far less expensive than the use of insurance.

Nonetheless, while participants will benefit from same-day appointments for non-emergency visits, the direct care model isn’t perfect. It’s still in development, individualized care may be too expensive for many patients, and there will be challenges when attempting to integrate direct care into existing payment systems. Additionally, Medicaid and Medicare deadlines will likely deter physicians. Direct primary care and concierge medicine differ from the urgent care model, where patient receive expedient, affordable care in a center equipped with updated medical tech. Check out additional information on the matter.

Birmingham Welcomes Another Urgent Care Center

Urgent Care, Roger Stanmore

American Family Care (AFC), a leading provider of accessible primary care and urgent care, has opened Birmingham’s 14th urgent care medical center. The expansion suggests that the Birmingham community continues to embrace the presence of quality health care that’s accessible and economical. Additionally, the new facility promises to be an additional and needed source of accelerated care.

The new medical center, located in Tennehill Promende shopping center, near the junction of I-459 and I-20, and its AFC’s 46th in Alabama and 160th facility nationwide. The opening of the location grants a continuous opportunity to serve new patients and provide that care at a lower rate while saving patients’ time.

American Family Care has provided non-emergency care from more than 33 years, pioneering the concept of this form of care. Their reach spans 26 states, and each of AFC’s medical centers are designed to provide treatment for primary care, urgent care and minor emergency. These centers are equipped with high-tech equipment, including digital x-rays, electronic medical records, on-site lab testing and state of the art diagnostics. Most importantly, these clinics are staffed with compassionate and sympathetic health care professions, who are available to clients daily between the hours of 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The first American Family Care was founded in Hoover, Alabama in 1982. In 2013, AFC acquire the Doctors Express franchise, which further positioned them to 160 clinics, which is staffed with 500 in-network physicians. AFC provides care to more than 2 million patients each year, offering them services that are economical, timely and convenient. 

Alabama and every other state in the nation has benefited from the urgent care model, which has established itself as an essential aid. Urgent care does what many models can not. It offers express care to patients within a setting that’s clean and stocked with state of the art medical equipment. Also, seasoned professions move quickly while being attentive, which differs greatly from a reality where patients wait for nearly an hour to see a doctor who doesn’t have the time or interest to give them the care and understanding that they should.

Urgent Care Medicine and it’s Rise in the U.S.

Waiting RoomUrgent Care Medicine continues to change. It’s a live thing that constantly revises to meet the needs of the public. As life spans increase, medicines have improved and medical technologies have morphed to meet the diverse needs of patients. 

There are frustrations that exist in the world of medical care. For the patients, it’s long waits at the emergency room. However, lengthy waits in the emergency room can be attributed to congestion due to non-emergency care and an inability to meet with primary care physicians. It’s not uncommon for certain patients to wait weeks before their actually able to see their primary care physician.

The Urgent Care industry re-emerged during the mid-1990s to meet the needs of patients needing non-emergency care. The Urgent Care movement was launched in the U.S., but the healthcare delivery component spread to many nations, including New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the U.K. Over the last eight years, the number of urgent care facilities increased from 8,000 to 9,300. These facilities meet the immediate medical needs of clients, and they’re frequently the main destination for medical care due to the fact that primary-care physicians rarely have weekend or evening availability.

Less than 30 percent of primary care physicians offer after-hour services, which hints at the significance of urgent care facilities. Urgent care facilities provide a breadth of after-hour availability and patients typically only wait just half-an-hour or less when visiting these centers, compared to a multiple hour waits at the emergency room.

Urgent Care centers frequently put patients in touch with doctors, not nurse practitioners, and they provide imaging and other services. These services are available at a fraction of ER prices, and they accept most types of insurance. The availability, extended hours, and costs make Urgent Care centers ideal for patients with non-life-threatening healthcare needs. Moreover, these facilities provide relief to emergency rooms and hospitals, which have drastically reduced in numbers despite the an increase in the number of visits.

There are more than 20,000 physicians practicing in Urgent Care centers around the nation, and that number is growing. Many training physicians currently pursuing a career in Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Emergency Medicine, and Pediatrics are seeking additional schooling for Urgent Care Medicine. Urgent Care doctors are dedicated to treating illnesses and injuries that require immediate care, and point-of-care dispensing allows Urgent Care practitioners to provide prescriptions to patients prior to departure. Though medication dispensing varies from state-to-state.

Telemedicine, Mobile Technology and the Future of Urgent Care

TelemedicineThere are countless conflicting ideas surrounding what the future of Urgent Care might look like for the American public. Walk-in urgent care centers continuously spring up around the nation, and the physicians in this field continue to push limitations and boundaries, proving that they’re capable of meeting almost any need posed by a patient. However, what’s inarguable is the role played by new technology and telemedicine services when it comes to transforming this industry, particularly services that provide doctors on demand. 

Pager, which is an application that flaunts the tagline “skip the waiting room,” allows patients to schedule a health check and assessment of overall health via their mobile device. Patients are effectively able to connect with a nurse practitioner or doctor and receive answers to questions and concerns. They’re able to talk to a certified doctor or nurse over the phone, who will help to diagnose and treat symptoms. Additionally, doctors are made available to visit you at your home, office or hotel. They’re can help you wherever you are. 

DoctorOnDemand, HealthTap, Remedy Inc. LiveHealth Online, Microsoft HealthVault, HelloMD, Text4Baby, PillPack, Ping MD, Heal, Medicast, and RevUp are similar apps, available at different costs, which has and will continue to impact the way patients and doctors treat health and wellness. These services are a new twist on the old concept of house calls provided by doctors, but these direct-to-consumer services also attempt to cater to the immediacy of modern life.

Experts tend to agree that these technologies fill a necessary void, providing timely service to those who are immobile or shut-in. However, there are drawbacks. Firstly, these services tend to only be available in major cities, such as Seattle, New York, Nashville and San Francisco. Also, while you’re put into contact with a doctor with the same amount of effort that it might take to order a pizza, you aren’t in an urgent care facility, which likely has the tools and the devices to treat your ailment. Also, some patients do risk being misdiagnosed by competent, but misinformed drop-by clinicians working for medical apps. Some simply aren’t trained to make house calls, and others may not be the correct specialist to meet your needs or service your particular emergency. Additionally, these services don’t foster long-term doctor-patient relationships.

For those choosing to use these apps, be sure to do your research because technologies and doctors differ. Moreover, know the difference between emergency and urgent, don’t neglect primary care, and pay attention to your history and records to help that doctor to properly identify any potential long-term illnesses or chronic conditions.

Together, new apps, primary care, emergency services and urgent care services can work together to offer you the health care that you truly need.