American consumers love choices. Sometimes they base their decisions on price, on convenience, on quality, on other factors, or a combination. Traditionally in health care, the power of choice for patients has been far less clear and available. When it comes to where patients can go for care, thankfully that’s changing – they still have primary care physicians; they still have emergency rooms; but there’s an alternative that has been gaining tremendous momentum for health care consumers here in Arizona and it’s called urgent care. It is undoubtedly impacting how people think about health care quality, cost and convenience for the better.
There are, of course, traditional advantages to emergency departments. Hospital emergency departments are a critical and indispensable component of the U.S. health care system. While their traditional mission is to provide trauma and emergency services for people in imminent danger of losing their life or suffering permanent damage to their health, the role of emergency departments has evolved over the past several decades. EDs are on the front lines of communities’ preparedness efforts and responses to natural disasters, other mass-casualty events, and public health emergencies arising from outbreaks of influenza and other communicable diseases.
For non-life threatening situations there are alternatives to the ED that can be faster and more convenient, provide quality care and do so at significantly less cost. Primary care physicians (PCPs) are certainly an excellent choice, but sometimes same day appointments are not available and most PCPs offices are not open extended hours.
For many non-life-threatening illnesses or injuries a new option has emerged over the last 20 years called urgent care centers. Almost all of them have experienced providers and convenient locations. As a case study to examine the issue, this article focuses on one of the leading urgent care providers located right here in Phoenix called FastMed Urgent Care and why it may be an excellent alternative to an emergency department for care.
FastMed Urgent Care is a 12-year-old, physician-owned practice that provides care on a walk-in basis and is open extended evening hours, 365 days a year. Conveniently located in your neighborhood, FastMed is ready to provide high quality and cost efficient care to you and your family before or after school or work or anytime in between. Here are 10 reasons to visit a FastMed Urgent Care over an emergency department for non-life threatening care:
1. Quicker – When you aren’t feeling well, the last thing you want to do is wait for hours to be treated. Around 95% of all FastMed patients are in and out within an hour; while the average emergency department visit time is over 4 hours according to the Urgent Care Association of America (UCAOA).
2. Less Expensive–FastMed has an extremely low comparative cost while still offering high quality services. Did you know the average emergency department bill is a pricey $1,000? FastMed bills average $130, and the company accepts most insurance plans. This means that if you visit a FastMed clinic instead of the emergency department, you will most likely be paying a lower co-pay and your employer and/or insurance company will be paying an average of seven times less money.
3. Better Service – Making you feel good is what FastMed is about. In addition to providing high quality and cost effective medical care, we treat our patients with courteous attention and concern. FastMed Urgent Care clinics are clean, bright and offer conveniences such as complimentary water and free WiFi.
4. Convenient – No one can anticipate when medical care will be needed, so it’s good to know that qualified medical professionals at FastMed Urgent Care are right in your neighborhood. FastMed has 21 neighborhood Arizona locations with easy parking and quick access. Emergency departments can often require the inconvenience of garage parking and locations that are not in your neighborhood.
5. More Efficient – Emergency departments are designed for patients that need highly trained teams of health care professionals dealing with life threating illness and injury. Cases not requiring this level of sophistications should be treated at PCP offices or urgent cares. Not only is visiting an emergency department far more expensive, but it takes medical professionals’ time away from critical emergency patients whose conditions are life-threatening.
6. Less “Over Use” – New technology introduced over the past decade has paved the way for huge advancements in the capabilities of medicine. For certain types of cases this is invaluable. Unfortunately, technology often gets overused and when this happens there invariably will be “false positives” (test shows there is an abnormal result but in reality the result is normal). FastMed clinics have the Digital X-Ray and CLIA waived lab whereas emergency departments have the latest sophisticated imaging and other technology. While having this equipment is an essential for certain diagnostic reasons and life saving for patients that need it, most patients that visit the ED don’t need it and if used, there are not only extra costs, but false positive results that lead to even more testing, more money and care that may not be necessary.
7. Less Paperwork and Administrative Hassle – After a visit to FastMed, you will receive one bill from FastMed and potentially one from a DME (Durable medical equipment) if crutches or split is required and a laboratory bill if a test needs to be sent out. In an emergency department, there will be a 5-7 bills (ED physician group, hospital facility services such as x-ray, radiologist bill, DME, pharmacy, other physician groups and often times more).
8. There are Sick People in EDs – Urgent care centers are far less crowded than the average emergency department – and the few people in the waiting rooms tend to be far less sick. That dramatically lessens the chance of you catching an illness like you might in the emergency department where serious infectious people wait.
9. Medications Available – After a long visit at an emergency department, you are then required to go to a separate pharmacy to have your prescriptions filled. At FastMed, 72% of all medications that are prescribed are available at our clinics. Of course, if you prefer to have your prescription filled somewhere else that is the patient’s choice, but it is nice to know you always have the convenience of purchasing your medication right at our clinics.
10. We Care About You! – Let’s face it, EDs are really engineered to deal with heart attack patients and car accident victims – if you are not in severe trauma, they are not set up to help you in a patient friendly way. FastMed is truly a company that is designed with our patients in mind. We can get you in, treated rapidly and effectively, and out quickly. And, we are confident you will be satisfied the experience. As we like to say, it’s “personal care in your neighborhood.”
FastMed sets the standard for quality in urgent care. Delivering personal, professional, affordable urgent care when you need it is one of FastMed’s founding goals. Walk into a FastMed Urgent Care clinic and walk out feeling better about your health care. For more information visit FastMed.com.