5 Tips for an Easier, More Affordable ER Visit

5 Tips for an Easier, More Affordable ER Visit | Roger Stanmore MD, JDEmergency rooms (also known as an accident & emergency departments or the ER) are medical treatment facilities that specialize in emergency medicine. At these facilities, patients can access care without an appointment, and by way of an ambulance, or through their own means. They’re equipped and staffed to provide prompt treatment of those suffering from illnesses or trauma, requiring immediate medical care.

Likely, if you’re visiting the emergency room, you’re dealing with a severe medical issue. Ahead of the visit, you need to assure that you’ll be able to answer all questions about your health insurance and medical history. There are also some other things you should contemplate, with regards to tests, procedures, affordability, and access. Below, find five tips to better your ER visit:

  1. Consider the fact that you may not need to visit the ER. While you may feel that you have an emergency on your hands, you’ll likely endure a long wait and a spend a lot of money to simply learn that an urgent care facility could meet your needs at a reduced cost for less than half the time. The ER is best meant to service those with serious head injuries, seizures, stroke heart attack, and other severe pain –while urgent care units are equipped to treat everything from broken bones, to stitches, to burns.
  2. Educate yourself about your health so that you can share that you can quickly share that information with the hospital. No matter who you see for your medical health needs, be sure that you give the medical professional enough information, so they can properly aid you. Have medical history on hand when you arrive at the ER. Having your health history handy means having a list of your previous hospital stays, the past or chronic illnesses/diseases, allergies, medications/supplements, health problems in your family, and vaccines you’ve received. Consider storing medical records on an app –meaning that it can be easily accessed.
  3. Learn your ER rights, and make sure no one is violating those rights. Insurance companies are required to cover your care if you visit the ER with an emergency medical condition, according to the Affordable Care Act. There’s no need for approval ahead of your visit if your symptoms are severe enough that you believe you may be in danger.
  4. Rather than racking up a substantial bill at the ER, learn if your doctor can run those tests for you. Tests conducted in a hospital will cost a great deal more than they will at other places. If it’s at all possible to safely put off scans and tests, then you should wait until you visit your doctor’s office, where they will be less costly.
  5. Read your ER bills. Upon receiving your ER bill, immediately scan it to make sure that you were charged in-network costs. It’s possible that you could have been visited by a specialist, technician, or another professional outside of your network during your stay. Nonetheless, most plans will cover all ER fees during the cases of a real emergency. However, providers will bill you directly for differences between what your plan pays and what they charge. Either way, you may want to follow up with your insurance company.

    Remember to know your rights, review your bills and insurance reports, and postpone non-essential tests.

“Smart Thread”: Revolutionizing Medical Diagnostics With 3-D Tissue Embedding

Engineers at Tufts University have come up with a new “smart thread” diagnostic platform that could revolutionize the way we diagnose medical issues. This could be the beginning of a new generation of smart wearable devices and implantable medical diagnostics.

The new microfluidic threads created by the team can be sutured through many layers of tissue in order to sample the body’s fluid. After the microfluidic threads collect tiny samples of tissue fluid, the samples are conveyed to sensing threads. These sensing threads measure a number of properties such as pH and glucose, and the data is sent to a flexible wireless transmitter that can be placed on top of the skin.This data is sent via electrically conductive threads.

Microfluidics is a fairly new practice. This technology applies ideas from a number of disciplines including chemistry, biochemistry, physics, engineering, biotechnology, and nanotechnology. Using microfluidics, tiny amounts of fluid can be controlled using microchannels.

The team behind the study was able to show how the smart thread can collect and transmit medical data in live rats. The data, which included pH and glucose levels, stress, strain, tissue pressure, and temperature, was transmitted to a computer and a cell phone.

Having the ability to measure these properties in real time in three dimensions in live tissue could be useful in a number of medical applications. This technology could help to monitor wound healing, emerging infections, and any imbalances in the body’s chemistry.

It is extremely exciting that this 3-D platform is able to conform to the structure of complex tissues, such as those found in wounds, organs, and orthopedic implants. The way the thread-based diagnostic device can be sutured in a tissue or organ environment so intimately in three dimensions adds something new to the world of diagnostics. This feature has never been available with any other flexible diagnostic platforms.

One thing that isn’t new, however, is the concept of smart devices being capable of medical monitoring. For example, smart insulin patches are being developed that can sense high blood sugar, and can thus discharge the right amount of insulin. There are also smart wound dressings that can sense bacterial infections.

Up until now, the structure of implantable devices has been two dimensional. This is useful but it can only be used on flat tissue such as skin. There is another drawback to the 2-D devices. The materials in the substrates require specialized processing and are therefore expensive.

Smart thread is the solution to many of these inconveniences. Smart thread is made of thin, inexpensive, flexible material that can easily form into complex shapes. The thread also possesses natural wicking properties. This could be instrumental in conveying analytes, substances that help with chemical analysis of the tissue.
According to research, there is still more work to be done. One task that lies ahead is assessing the smart thread’s long-term biocompatibility. However, the results acquired so far show that treatments may be optimized to suit individual patients. This technology has the potential to make a big difference in the field of medical diagnostics.

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.