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In this issue: Office visit, urgent care clinic or emergency room?





Office visit, urgent care clinic or emergency room?

Approximately 82 percent of adults have some sort of contact with a physician throughout a given year. Of those contacts, approximately 1 billion are office visits, 160 million are visits to urgent care clinics and 136 million are trips to the emergency room.

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 primary care doctors allow them to build relationships with patients, which arms them with knowledge about their health history, habits, personality, etc. This information can lead to a quicker and more accurate diagnosis of a problem or condition.
  • Urgent care clinic: An urgent care clinic is designed to treat illness or injury that isn’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). On average, urgent care waits are only 15 minutes and charge a $35 to $55 copay, where as an emergency room visit can cost 40 percent more than an average person’s monthly rent.
  • Emergency room: Emergency room visits are for life-threatening conditions. According to the Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH), approximately 80 percent of emergency room cases could be treated at urgent care clinics and, on average, cost four times as much. 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 mouse pads 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.

“Ambulatory Care Use and Physician office visits.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 29 Apr. 2014. Web. Retrieved 06 Aug. 2015.

“Emergency Department Visits.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 29 Apr. 2015. Web. Retrieved 06 Aug. 2015.

“When It’s Time for Urgent Care.” Scripps Health. N.p., 16 July 2014. Web. Retrieved 06 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.

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.

Samuels, Diana. “When should you go to the emergency room versus urgent care?” Nola.com. N.p., 23 Feb. 2015. Web. Retrieved 18 Aug. 2015.

Blue Papers

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