Ever wait for hours in the emergency department?
The new crop of urgent care facilities is giving ERs a run for their money with streamlined, patient-centric care that’s delivered quickly and with high quality. And they do it with systems and workflows that allow fast patient intake and quick transfer of patient data and status among departments.
Here’s a personal experience.
I strained a quadriceps muscle climbing a hill on a bicycle ride. The next day, my knee was swollen like a cantaloupe. I iced it and took ibuprofen, but that wasn’t enough. I could barely walk 100 yards. Someone told me that Philadelphia’s famous orthopedic care facility, The Rothman Institute, had a walk-in urgent care facility near me, so I went there.
Without waiting, I went through the new patient intake procedure and filled out a medical history on an iPad. Just before I finished, the nurse in charge of my care was waiting to take me to an X-ray room where my electronic chart was waiting. The technician performed a series of X-rays on my knee. The nurse then led me to an examining room. He interviewed me for information related to the injury and input my answers into my electronic chart.
Then a doctor entered, asked a few questions, and then told me the diagnosis based on a physical exam and the X-rays she saw on the screen. Her recommended treatment: Drain the fluid from my knee and inject cortisone into the joint. She performed both procedures right then and there with the assistance of the nurse and gave me some final instructions. Someone else arrived and fitted me with a knee brace. I walked out gingerly.
Total time elapsed: 50 minutes.
The systems that manage the flow of patient data through the healthcare facility not only improve the patient experience, but they save time and money. There’s no waiting for people and data to be transferred from department to department. Everything is available in real time and is there when the patient arrives at the next care station.
Granted, urgent care facilities are not appropriate for every type of injury or ailment, but ERs are starting to adopt many of the systems that facilitate rapid patient care in an effort to compete for their share of patients. I recently saw a billboard on a state highway in Maryland that had an LED showing the current wait time at a local ER. It was flashing four minutes.
It’s great that the quality of our healthcare delivery systems is catching up with the quality of our medical care.
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