Urgent care as an industry is in a precarious position as the COVID-19 pandemic surge rages on. Driven by the most transmissible variant to date, multiple states and major cities are grappling with their largest caseloads yet. Overcrowding in emergency rooms is so bad that hospital administrators and public health officials from Philadelphia to Iowa are recommending that patients stay away from the ED if at all possible and opt to visit their closest urgent care center instead.
With the Omicron variant now the most common form of COVID-19 in the United States—and with the best way to reduce risk being fully vaccinated and boosted against the virus, as JUCM News has reported—urgent care centers can expect to see more patients seeking that third shot (if they’re not turning up already).
Radiologists commonly mistake pelvic fractures requiring minimal follow-up for those involving the anterior column, which typically necessitates specialized care. These misses can directly affect patients and lead to unnecessary healthcare spending, experts said in a recent study.
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In this study, the authors surveyed attendants at an emergency medicine conference in 2018 as to their comfort level discharging patients after a negative acute coronary syndrome (ACS) work-up.1 The survey cohort consisted mostly of United States and Canadian attending physicians, residents, or midlevel providers. Later that year, the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) published national guidelines recommending an acceptable 30-day MACE rate of 1%-2%. However, survey respondents reported much more conservative views, with almost 50% reporting an acceptable level of missed 30-day MACE of 0.1% or 0.01%. In fact, less than 1/3 of participants met ACEP’s recommended 1%-2% miss rate.
First the urgent care industry saw itself cut out of the distribution chain for COVID-19 testing supplies. Next, it saw vaccines go preferentially to go health systems, public health organizations, and chain drugstores and big box stores. Now, as it continues to come back from those oversights, there are reports that UnitedHealth Group is undercutting the reimbursement rate set by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for immunizing patients against SARS-CoV-2.
As JUCM News has reported, many urgent care operators started suffering downturns in patient visits in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. It could be hard to get those patients back without a concerted effort on your part, according to an article just published by JAMA Network.
So many patients have lingering symptoms after the SARS-CoV-2 virus has actually resolved that distinctive names have emerged: long-haul COVID-19, or post-COVID condition.
It’s always been hard to get a good read on how telehealth would ultimately fare in the urgent care industry. There have been proponents who argued that anything that increases access to medical care—which telehealth does, undeniably—would ultimately be good for the patient and any operator smart enough to seize the opportunity.
Readers of JUCM News are painfully aware of downturns in urgent care patient visits throughout much of the COVID-19 pandemic. As testing supplies and now vaccines have become more readily available, and patients feel safer venturing to healthcare facilities, a healthy rebound is in effect at urgent care centers across the country.