Archive | May, 2013

What is Urgent Care?

22 May

As an alternative to emergency rooms or even a primary care physician, urgent care centers are rapidly growing in popularity but there is often confusion as to exactly what urgent care is and what services are provided.  At their most basic, urgent care centers provide walk-in, extended hour access for acute illness and injury care that is either beyond the scope or availability of the typical primary care practice or not serious enough to warrant treatment in an ER.  They sit in the middle of the medical services spectrum between a primary care physician and an emergency room and help alleviate pressure on both by providing care for patients whose primary care doctor is not available and reserving the nation’s emergency room resources for more serious, life-threatening conditions.  Patients typically seek treatment at an urgent care center for minor injuries and illnesses like fevers, upper respiratory infections, sprains and strains, lacerations, contusions, and back pain.  Most of these centers have the resources to treat minor fractures, administer intravenous fluids, and process a few lab tests.  Each center offers slightly different services, so it’s well advised to verify with the clinic before seeking care, but all of these services and consultations are available without an appointment and most types of insurances are accepted.

For patients with minor medical issues, urgent care centers offer a great way to obtain convenient access to medical care without having to wait for hours in an emergency room, or several days to schedule an appointment at their primary care doctor.  While there is no official count, it is generally accepted that there are close to 9,000 urgent care clinics located throughout the United States.  That means for most patients, a clinic is located near them, and in large cities, there will be many different options available.  Many of these health care facilities offer their services during evening and even weekend hours as way to help patients who need to seek care outside of regular business hours.  These centers are typically staffed with physicians with a support nursing staff, or may have physician assistants as well.  Some centers have even begun focusing solely on pediatric care, offering the pediatric specialty in a walk-in setting.  However, the main reason for the popularity of urgent care centers is their cost effectiveness and affordability. urgent care 22

A recent trend in the medical industry has seen more and more investor-owned companies, private equity and other financiers move into the urgent and immediate care business.  Previously this had generally been the domain of entrepreneurial doctors who set out on their own and found the urgent care model to be an easier way to directly interact with patients than establishing their own private practice.  The shift to larger corporate entities has been a result of the pressure applied on hospitals from lawmakers, and insurance companies to treat patients in less costly outpatient care settings.  Urgent care centers can provide an equivalent high level of care, with the cost-efficiency and convenience benefits sought by all parties.  By limiting their scope of treatment to nonlife-threatening illnesses or injuries, these centers don’t need some of the most expensive equipment used by hospitals, and thus can keep costs down.  As a result, the co-pay for a visit to an urgent care clinic is usually less than a visit to an emergency room.

For all these reasons, their hours of operations, numerous locations, quality medical services and affordable costs, urgent care centers are considered to be one of the best new sources of available health care. Patients can expect a high quality of care with well qualified doctors at a center that’s located close to them while saving money and freeing up emergency resources for better use.

 

Health Care facilities In Florida: A general overview

3 May

There are a host of medical issues currently facing Florida.  Yet one issue seems to stand out among all the others and it will come as no surprise to even the most casual observer.  That issue is Florida’s aging population and it is such a large concern that we can gain a better understanding of the overall healthcare scenario in Florida by examining it.  Florida is one of the premier retirement destinations in the United States and every year, more and more seniors move to the state to enjoy their golden years in the beautiful weather and surroundings.  These seniors have led to the state having the 4th largest population of people 65 years of age or older in the US. While it is certainly nice see people living long lives, the increasing aged population continues to put a strain on the existing medical facilities.  Hospitals and all types of health care facilities are experiencing the effects of treating more seniors, suffering a rise in the a shortage of beds available to patients and lacking the medical staff to handle the rising demand, especially in areas such as critical care.  It is important for health planners and hospital management to recognize that this group represents the greatest users of hospital services according to the Healthcare Financial Management Association.  Unfortunately, records also show that Florida ranks third among all states, with the highest rate of residents without any health insurance.  With new federal regulations coming into effect, this will hopefully become a significantly less important issue, but for the moment it serves to further complicate the social and economic impact of baby boomers.

In addition to sheer numbers, the health issues of the aging and the aged are quite unique and require a different sort of treatment.  Even regular scrapes, cuts and illnesses can be more serious for seniors.  A weakened immune system may cause something like the flu to be a life threatening illness, whereas it may just cause someone younger to be bed-ridden for a short period of time.  A simple fall could result in a fracture, leaving the person helpless if they are alone.  And some of the biggest medical issues of the day seem to disproportionally affect seniors.   Alzheimer’s, which is the most talked about form of dementia, affects a large number of aged people, yet the most widespread condition affecting those 65 and older is heart disease, which includes everything from heart attacks,  to high blood pressure or even hypertension. Arthritis can make simple movement painful and osteoporosis can weaken a person’s bones, making simple injuries more serious and increasing the amount of time necessary to heal.  All of these issues can require a doctor with the expertise to make the sometimes challenging and unique diagnosis, and then the specialists necessary to treat the issues.  With the ever increasing population of aging and the aged, the healthcare system in Florida will need to find a way to tackle the big challenge of simply being ready to treat these issues in the coming years.

Fortunately for the state, today’s consumers are overall more educated, accustomed to immediate services and have the financial means to seek the best care.  These factors have led to the development of a number of excellent health care centers all over the state of Florida. Everywhere throughout the state, patients can find good hospitals, primary care doctors, walk-in or urgent care centers, and other specialists.  Well-equipped hospitals with a dedicated staff can make a big difference in the quality of care available, and thus the overall health care system in a state.  Ailing aged patients visit hospitals and urgent care centers frequently for their numerous medical issues.  The presence second tier health care facilities, such as rehabilitation and diagnostic imaging facilities can also go a long way in helping to meet the medical requirements of the aging population. It should also be noted that assisted living facilities, also called elderly care homes or nursing facilities, are proving quite vital in ensuring the health, and providing for rehabilitation, of the aged and impaired.  There are a number of state as well private nursing home care facilities which provide twenty four hour, round the clock attention.  Their skilled professional health care teams aim to provide a holistic treatment for the elderly.

Though healthcare for the aging and aged is a daunting task, a comprehensive system of hospitals, emergency rooms, primary care centers, walk-in clinics or urgent care centers in Florida, state and private organizations and agencies in Florida are all geared towards working together to provide for the health and overall well being of the elderly.  With these pieces in place, the state seems more than capable of meeting the challenges it faces in the upcoming years.