The Growth of Urgent Care Facilities in the United States

Senior (College 4th year) ・Healthcare&Medicine ・MLA ・4 Sources

Social, political, and economic factors that led to a rampant growth of urgent care facilities over the last 20-30 years include increased demand of consumers for easy, quick and convenient access to urgent care facilities. Urgent care clinics are an alternative healthcare access for people who do not have chronic diseases but require medical attention for minor ailments. Moreover, they are accessible on weekends, public holidays and late night hours and they provide medical care for minor conditions like sprains, cuts, colds, and flu. Urgent care facilities are growing rampantly; between 2008 and 2010, 300 urgent care facilities were set up in America. The rate doubled in 2011 (Osby 2015). Therefore, critical care facilities are more accessible and convenient to the community in cases of minor injuries and health conditions.

Shortage of doctors in the acute and tertiary care facilities is causing the growth and demand of urgent care facilities. More insured people are seeking the attention of a primary doctor. Thus, one finds it hard to get an appointment with their family doctor. This situation forces individuals to look for alternative means of medical care, hence the increased demand for urgent care facilities. Insurers are becoming supportive of urgent care facilities by including them in their insurance policies. Furthermore, urgent care facilities are less expensive than most ERs thus more hospitals are setting them up to reduce crowding in ERs and to treat minor conditions, not in need of emergency or intensive care. Therefore, they are most preferred by those residents who do not earn much income.

A growing population causes an increase in healthcare demand. Thus, urgent care facilities assist in reducing overpopulation in the acute and tertiary hospitals; ensuring patients get quick access to medical treatment instead of spending long hours queuing at the central city hospitals.

The mission statement for the clinic is to increase medical services for children and youth with disabilities and chronic health conditions. The clinic can also improve its surgical services, medication accessibility, diagnostic procedures, symptom management and laboratory technologies (Harry, Ireys and Heagarty 1995). This will assist in reducing mortality rate of children and youth with serious illnesses, for example, sickle cell anemia, obesity, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, autism, asthma, spina bifida, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, and cancer. The clinic can also intensify its primary care services through the development of essential technology or community-family healthcare programs. This will eventually influence the community and an individual positively by increasing quality of life, increasing life expectancy, enhancing one's capacity to deal with medical stresses and abiding by the medical treatment programs. The clinical can also fund departmental units that deal with chronic diseases affecting the adult population. These are cases of cardiovascular conditions, stroke, cancer and orthopedic illnesses.

The primary care clinic can offer affordable medical care treatment options for patients who may not be able to afford medical services at the acute and tertiary hospitals in the city.

Additionally, due to distance, those living in the rural areas may not easily access the hospitals in the city. The primary care clinic can advocate for the improvement of infrastructure from the rural regions to its base, making it easier for those in the interior to acquire prompt medical care, especially in emergency cases. The primary care clinic can also improve its Emergency Response Unit (ER) to reduce mortality caused by accidents, cardiac arrests, strokes and birth complications. This means at the clinic will provide ambulance services in cases of emergency.

There are quite some factors that need consideration when deciding what services to provide in-house. Some of them include:

i. What type of care services will the clinic offer? The services may be laboratory tests, clinical check-ups, basic first aid care, preventive and wellness programs, primary care, drug testing including others.

ii. Who will the clinic offer services to? Will the primary care clinic be accessible to people from the rural areas, the urban or both places? Will it include maternal health care programs, reproductive health programs, and children wellness programs? Will the services offered be affordable to both poor and rich in society? Will the insurance cover an individual's spouse and children or will the clinic enact restriction policies on children above the age of 18?

iii. Who will the staff be? A clinic’s success solely relies on the quality of the staff and whether they have the right personality to deal with every patient.

The clinic will have to consider the operational costs for instance, how much money would be spent on expansion to accommodate further clinical services. The clinic should be located at a place that will allow for expansion yet still maintaining security and comfortability for its patients. The clinic might also strengthen communication to promote its services to the public. This can be achieved through conducting events such as the health fair to attract clients. Since most women greatly influence healthcare decisions of their family, it is vital that the clinic reassures them of quality and convenient services and reliability of healthcare staff (Edwards 2015).

The clinic might also consider collaborating with healthcare facilities in the city to form an onsite clinic. This partnership will help in effective cost sharing because the clinic may not be sufficient on its own. The mobile care unit is also another effective strategy that will assist in offering healthcare services to those in distant locations and lack means of commuting to the clinic. The clinic might consider creating a positive appeal to clients by establishing relationship-based healthcare services, which help to reveal potential health issues. However, the patient needed to feel comfortable and assured that personal information remains confidential.

 The three performance measurements that I could use to evaluate the success of the clinic’s service are:

 i. Regular Inspection. The clinic should regularly be inspected to ensure that it complies with published licensing regulations, hygiene, medical devices, radiation, and medicines are all in place. Further inspections will ensure proper blood transfusions, infection control and proper disposal of toxic and hazardous wastes. Inspections will, therefore, ensure that the clinic conforms to performance and safety measures; however, they do not assure proper hospital performance and observation of clinical processes.

 ii. Measuring of the consumer experience. Surveying of the patients is helpful is evaluating a clinic's performance regarding patient comfort, health education, client empowerment, complaint mechanisms, continues care of the patients and quality of clinic services (Shaw 2003). The government is taking steps in patient protection through legislation of patient rights and publishing patient charters that will make patients more aware of their clinical rights because most of them have low expectations of clinical services thus easily satisfied with sub-standard services. The advantage of a consumer survey is that it takes into consideration customer interests and not those of the clinical manager or clinician.

 iii. Use of statistical indicators. Statistical indicators help identify which aspects to improve on for example service and quality improvement, re-strategizing performance management, offering further scrutiny. Through performance management, the clinical staff will identify whether they have achieved the relevant clinical goals and objectives. For instance, they can use customer evaluation to acquire feedback on the quality of clinical services. This can be done through questionnaires. The clinic also includes a suggestion/complaint box to offer an opportunity to those clients who may want to offer ways of improving patient services or issue complaints regarding ill-treatment by any clinical officer or unsatisfactory services. The clinic can, therefore, use such feedback to offer reliable services to customers thus making it more appealing to the community.

Because the community’s population is increasing at a fast rate, there is more demand for hospital services thus, posing a need to increase the clinic’s family physicians from five to at least ten such that they can work in shifts. Some can work during the morning shift, others in the afternoon shift and others in the night shift. This strategy will serve to increase consultation efficiency and ensuring that doctors are not overworked. I could advocate for an increase in well-trained nurse practitioners so that in-patients are well catered for in the absence of the doctors. Apart from primary care services, I will advocate for the establishment of other healthcare services such as pulmonary care, inpatient and outpatient surgery, maternity and delivery care and chronic diseases care. Thus, clients will consult the clinic as their primary healthcare facility and not as an alternative to the large hospitals in the city. I will also enact an insurance policy where clients can acquire outpatient and inpatient services through medical insurance cover. Additionally, I would make clinical services more affordable and less expensive than the acute and tertiary care facilities in the city. Eventually, the primary care clinic will be more favorable to the residents struggling to make ends meet.

Works Cited

Edwards, T.G. "Considerations for implementing an in-house health clinic." USA: Wells Fargo Insurance Services (2015)

Harry, J., Ireys, H.T. and Heagarty, M. “Strategies for Assuring the Provision of Quality Services through Managed Care Delivery Systems to children With Special Healthcare Needs Workshop Highlights” (1995)

Osby, L. “Patient demand fueling growth of urgent care centers” Citizen Times (2015)

Shaw, C. How can improve hospital performance he measured and monitored? Copenhagen: WHO Regional Office for Europe (2003)

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