Analyze the characteristics of each type of organization (Urgent Care Centers) and the factors that impact operations. Discuss options to improve the financial and operational performance of nonprofit organizations and the criticisms leveled at for-profit healthcare organizations.
Your resultant written paper should be 750 words, double-spaced, and in APA format. Your primary text and the journal and website research article must be used as references to support your analysis and summary paper. Use at least three references.
The challenges in the United States health care system including, low capacity in the emergency department, shortages of primary care clinicians, the constant rise in the cost of health care over the past decades, have led to the emergence of these care centers. The primary purpose of these care centers is to provide an alternative care setting that provides access to quality health care and contains high health costs. Over the past years, this health care centers have provided care for the illnesses and injuries that required immediate attention. They have played a role in reducing the congestion at the emergency department.
According to the new qualitative study by the center for studying health care system change for the national institute for health care reform, these care centers will increase access to convenient care and reduce the congestion at the emergency department (Ho et al, 2017). Several communities, including Minneapolis, Detroit, and Phoenix, among others, were interviewed concerning the need for urgent care centers; the response they gave was that the consumer demand for access to convenient care has led to the growth of these care centers.
While hospitals view urgent care centers as a way to gain more patients, health plans, on the other hand, see a golden opportunity to keep patients away from the high-cost emergency department visits as much as they can. Health care coverage expansion under the national health care reform is likely to result in more significant capacity strain on the primary care and the emergency department. Therefore more urgent health care systems are like to emerge. The first urgent care centers emerged in the year 1980 but did not take root since the industries did not have a good market strategy to gain access to patients. However, the patients’ demand for quality and convenient health care did not stop but instead increased significantly. This prompted a renewed growth in the urgent care system. A large percentage of patients with the usual primary care physician reported that they do not get extended hours for care, suggesting a need for urgent health cares to fill the gap. According to history, urgent cares were initially independently owned, standalone facilities, but this has considerably changed over the years. Hospital systems are also establishing urgent care centers in order to expand their area of services and referral base. Health insurers are also not left behind. They have partnered with the urgent care centers to minimize spending growth by shifting some care from the high-cost emergency department to relatively low-cost urgent care (Carroll, Levy, Pescatore & Hong, 2019)
The urgent care centers are mainly located in areas that have a high population, high income. They are also placed in more affluent areas, especially in the suburb with a high population of young people or rapid population growth. According to the national survey data, 35 percent of urgent care centers were owned by physicians or a group of physicians (Yadav, Stahmer, Mistry & May, 2020). Another seven percent owned by non-physicians also called the franchisor. However, the ownership varies from one community to another. For example, almost all urgent care centers in Minneapolis are owned by hospitals, while in Detroit and Phoenix, the urgent care centers are more independently owned. The high rates of the hospital-owned urgent care centers in Minneapolis reflect the presence of integrated delivery systems in the market; only a few prominent hospitals have established urgent care centers to expand their service areas.
One of the impacts of urgent care is that they have improved access to certain services for privately insured people without having to disrupt the continuity of health care. They have filled access to the care gap by providing walk-in care, especially on weekends and evenings, for patients who do not have primary care physicians and those who cannot schedule a timely PCP appointment. Urgent care centers primarily serve both privately insured patients and Medicare patients. While the hospital emergency department screens patients for their ability to pay, these cares attend to their patients regardless of their ability to pay. They also provide care coordination. Many patients treated at a care centers have acute needs that require isolation from the other health care needs and conditions. The impacts of urgent care concerning the cost of care remains unclear as patients do not know if urgent care has helped them save money or has increased costs by drawing their attention from the primary care practices.
The urgent care centers’ financial and operational performance can be improved by making urgent care more accessible to low-income patients. Growth in hospital affiliation with urgent care may enhance urgent care to be integrated with other care settings and provide coordinated care. Communications with patients through electronic health records will enable urgent care centers to treat patients with complex conditions.
Ho, V., Metcalfe, L., Dark, C., Vu, L., Weber, E., Shelton Jr, G., & Underwood, H. R. (2017). Comparing utilization and costs of care in freestanding emergency departments, hospital emergency departments, and urgent care centers. Annals of emergency medicine, 70(6), 846-857.
Carroll, G., Levy, K., Pescatore, R., & Hong, R. (2019). Examination of EMS decision making in determining the suitability of patient diversion to care centers. In Healthcare (Vol. 7, No. 1, p. 24). Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute.
Yadav, K., Stahmer, A., Mistry, R. D., & May, L. (2020). An implementation science approach to antibiotic stewardship in emergency departments and urgent care centers. Academic Emergency Medicine, 27(1), 31-42.