Primary Care Services in Urgent Care: Why to Consider?
Urgent Care was mostly a healthcare niche which didn’t make much into account and was rather an alternate emergency care for patients. It was not until the COVID-19 outbreak that Urgent Care facilities became more necessary and dynamic for patient inflows. It was an unexpected turnaround for the healthcare sector that eventuated in positive revenue streams.
The emergence of longer waiting rooms and lines during the pandemic crisis made several patients to choose urgent care services. They served as a cornerstone to COVID tests and vaccines that resulted in record-breaking patient visits. Now, post the COVID era, the after effect of the pandemic ushered urgent clinics to deliver primary care, scheduled services, acute care, telehealth, and OccMed.
Patients choose urgent care for its convenience, which is the ultimate reflection of what the consumers expect from any kind of service. They expect services that are delivered to them to be easily available like buying a burger at a drive through. At the same time, they also do not want to compromise on quality of care provided as well, and this leads them to make choices that are handy, fits their time schedule, effective, and doesn’t disrupt their lives.
The best option in this scenario is urgent care, and hospitals and clinics around the nation offer diagnostic procedures, post-treatment care, telemedicine services, and primary care to those who return. They have adjusted to the need in a creative and adaptable way, which is how urgent care is still developing.
Incorporating primary care into Urgent care is therefore a boon. It meets the ever-evolving patient demands and helps expand the clinic services. Let’s see how primary care advocates growth in the Urgent Care industry:
Bringing in Primary Care to the Picture
It turns out that urgent care centers have much of the equipment they require to provide primary care services, apart from software that can handle this new class of patients and the associated workflows.
Many clinics lack access to high-level summaries of patient visit histories or ongoing problems in case of chronic diseases as urgent centers typically handle episodic visits. This makes it difficult to identify and manage chronic illnesses in people who get primary care.
You need technologies that enable you to quickly assess ongoing problem summaries and record chronic symptoms by taking into account the patient’s history in order to serve primary care as well as urgent care patients. You also need technologies that enable practitioners to access previous test results and track analytics if you decide to provide primary care. It is also essential to track and graph patient vitals, prior weight, height, and growth rates. By removing the typical barriers that prevent clinics from treating primary care patients quickly and effectively, the right information can be easily accessed.
But having access to facesheet data alone is insufficient. Efficiency is one of the secrets to the success of urgent care. Processes are slowed down and efficiency is reduced when migrating from an urgent care workflow to a primary care workflow. The facility would require a solution that enables to simultaneously record urgent care and primary care visits in a single system in order to boost efficiency.
The facility still has to go through the difficulty of enhancing scheduling and referrals even with these resources in place. The ability to refer patients to specialists as part of the regular workflow is necessary when managing primary care patients for follow-up visits and recurrent visits, as opposed to episodic encounters. The solution should take this into account without increasing the effort on the team.
What steps may be taken to lighten the workload for the urgent care staff?
1) Online Scheduling
While offering online appointment booking is common practice for urgent care, it is even more important for managing patients in general care.
Several marketplace solutions provide online scheduling software that displays all the nearby clinics when people search for a doctor or clinic by name. You won’t need to update your website if you go for this solution, but you will have to compete with other doctors who are utilizing it.
Practices must choose a solution and a partner that provides software that interacts with website and allows scheduling directly on the clinic’s homepage to have more control over your online appointment encounters. This streamlines the scheduling process for primary care patients, ensuring their satisfaction and speeding up the time window for urgent care patients.
2) Transparent Patient Queues
Transparent patient queuing assists in keeping all patients informed of their position in line as the facility advance toward being a primary care practitioner. If patients have access to a real-time waitlist that notifies them of delays, they can alter their arrangements and eliminate waiting time.
Online queue visibility for the current projected wait time should be available to patients. To ensure that the anticipated wait times are correct, information for each patient regardless of whether they planned an appointment in advance or simply saved their place in line should be combined into one queue.
For patients who are loyal to a certain clinic, this is the perfect solution. They can see a provider at a location of their choosing and avoid having to wait in a packed waiting area. The advantage is that all patients gain from it; even those who scheduled an appointment over the phone can check the wait times to decide whether or not they need to rush.
Billing and Contract Management in Urgent Facility’s Primary Care
To make sense of modifying contracts and to offer general care alongside your urgent care services, it is crucial to find out about contract rates and billing. It also serves as the first step in order to comprehend how contracting as a primary healthcare provider would impact the billing process and reimbursement.
Primary care has a lower average revenue per patient than urgent care. The difference is caused more by how an urgent care runs than by the fact that urgent care practitioners are typically provided an improved fee schedule or rate. The increased number of new patients, procedures, and auxiliary services performed by urgent care providers, as well as the increased number of high-acuity patients, often result in greater E/M and many other codes that yield higher reimbursement.
On the other hand, primary care clinicians looks at more established patients, patients with non-acute conditions, and patients that only need follow-up by nurses, which result in decreased E/M codes, lesser auxiliary codes, and ultimately reduced reimbursement.
A primary care contract may allow for operations similar to those of an urgent care facility. Examining global rates is the last point to consider when assessing contracts. These are more prevalent at urgent care centers, but are not available to primary care doctors. No matter how a clinic runs, the rates for urgent care and primary care will differ when using a flat-rate reimbursement system.
Why should you choose Primary Care?
Patients do not typically distinguish between urgent care and primary care, although healthcare professionals frequently do. They expect the same level of care from their urgent care facility as they do from their primary care physician.
Large-scale developments are taking place in the healthcare industry including mergers and acquisitions, alliances involving urgent cares and healthcare systems, and the requirement for more resources as a result of COVID-19. Patients’ needs are also constantly changing at the same time. The new normal forces all clinics to reevaluate how they conduct business in this volatile environment. Adapting your clinic to these needs is doable with the correct technological solutions.
We at Practolytics are dedicated to assisting you in adjusting to market changes. Our experienced staff can work with you to help you manage the shift and make the best possible business decisions.
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