More than 15 percent of Canadians do not have a regular doctor, according to Statistics Canada. That translates into more than 4.4 million people who seek alternate treatment options, such as visits to urgent care clinics and trips to the emergency room, when medical issues arise. In fact, there were more than 10 million emergency room visits reported last year, with average visit times of 7.5 hours each. Many of those cases could have been treated elsewhere to help clear the way for true emergencies and reduce long wait times.When illness or injury arises, will your patients know what type of facility to go to for treatment and why? When choosing a facility, patients should consider level of care, costs and time. Ensure patients know where to go for the appropriate care before they need it by providing them with these simple guidelines:
Office visit with a primary care physician
In addition to providing preventative health services, primary care physicians provide care for minor injuries or illness, or for diagnosis or treatment of a chronic condition, like diabetes or high blood pressure. The continuity of care offered by a primary care doctor allows them to build relationships with patients, which arms them with knowledge about their health history, habits, personality, etc. This information can lead to quicker and more accurate diagnosis of a problem or condition.
Urgent care clinic
An urgent care clinic is designed to treat illnessillnesses or injuries that aren’t life threatening, but that cannot wait for a primary care appointment. The quality of care and extended hours make it an appropriate choice for treatment of coughs, colds, flu-like symptoms, fevers, sore throats, ear infections, sprains, strains, minor broken bones, rashes and animal bites. Urgent care may also be an appropriate option for those patients who don’t have a primary care physician (although it is recommended that everyone designates and sees one).
Emergency room visits are for life-threatening conditions. According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), only about one in ten emergency room visits result in patients being checked into the hospital, which means many emergency room cases could be treated at urgent care clinics or even in doctor’s offices. These 24/7 facilities are truly meant to treat potentially dire conditions, including loss of consciousness, chest pain, breathing difficulty, excessive bleeding, head injury, major broken bones and severe pain.
Finding the right care at the right time not only cuts down on cost for both hospitals and patients, it can help patients get the proper care, faster. Communicating these simple guidelines to patients can help. Imprint first-aid kits, bookmarks and screen cleaners with these guiding principles and distribute them in clinics, waiting areas and the like. You may also want to imprint facility hours and locations on magnets and grocery lists for easy access to these important details.
When illness or injury calls, make sure your patients can get the care they need. They’re sure to appreciate knowing what type of facility best treats their medical concern.
“Access to a regular medical doctor.” Statistics Canada. Web. Retrieved 20 Aug. 2015.
“Emergency Department Highlights in 2013-2014. (PDF)” Canadian Institute for Health Information. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 20 Aug. 2015.
Rausch, Mark. “What’s the right choice – emergency room, primary care, or urgent care?” BetterMedCare.com. N.p., 30 May 2014. Web. Retrieved 18 Aug. 2015.
“What’s the difference between the doctor’s office, urgent care and the retail walk-in clinic?” healthedeals.com N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 18 Aug. 2015.
Ferretti, Andrea. “The Case for Having a Primary Care Physician.” One Medical. N.p., 13 Mar. 2011. Web. Retrieved 18 Aug. 2015.
“When Should You Head to the Emergency Room vs a Walk-In Clinic?” Florida Blue. N.p., 06 Aug. 2013. Web. Retrieved 18 Aug. 2015.