Hospitals must respond to urgent care evolution

Factors such as the shift to value-based care and the rise of healthcare consumerism have led to a new dawn for the urgent care industry, leaving many hospitals with little choice but to respond to this increasingly powerful competitor, according to Hospitals & Health Networks Daily.

Urgent care centers have been around for decades and cater to patients' immediate, non-life-threatening healthcare needs around the clock. Yet as Americans have access to more care options and find themselves shouldering more healthcare costs, these emergency department (ED) alternatives have proliferated, leading investors and health payers to make forays into the increasingly lucrative field of urgent care, the article states. The urgent care centers themselves also have changed to respond to consumers' needs, as they focus to provide convenient, quality care in an environment that has a coffee-shop-like feel.

For some healthcare organizations, this trend creates a clear imperative: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

One such organization is the New York-based North Shore-LIJ Health System, which through a partnership with urgent care operator Access Care Partners, plans to roll out 80 new clinics in the next five years, according to the article. Others, such as Milwaukee's Aurora Health Care or Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Healthcare, operate their own urgent care clinics.

Regardless of how health systems venture into the urgent care sphere, those who have done so believe the move is vital to increase patients' healthcare access and achieve population health management, according to H&HN.

Not all groups are convinced of the merits of urgent care, however. A poll of ED doctors conducted by the American College of Emergency Physicians found that more than 75 percent are concerned about patients with serious medical conditions going to an urgent care center before going to the ED, which could lead to dangerous delays in care.

To learn more:
- read the article

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