Urgent care services have been growing rapidly. In fact, many people now use urgent care for medical services traditionally performed by primary care offices. The business model of urgent care facilities is a breath of fresh air for medical patients. According to the Urgent Care Association of America, more than 3 million people visit an urgent care facility each week. Cigna Urgent Care Center facilities are designed to provide fast, efficient service to patients. In many cases, the staff keeps close track of when patients arrived, and how long it takes for them to be seen.
Cigna Urgent Care Center facilities serve a niche in the medical field. They offer more services than a traditional doctor’s office, and fewer services than an emergency room. This makes visiting urgent care ideal for people who have medical concerns that would fall under primary care.
For example, people who have an issue that may require lab tests to be taken, like a suspected thyroid problem, will find that urgent care facilities can complete their lab work onsite. Depending upon the lab work needed, they may be able to report the results during the same appointment. Many primary care offices must send patients to an offsite medical facility for lab work.
Many prescriptions can be dispensed by the urgent care staff, so patients who need a prescription filled may not have to make an extra trip to the pharmacy.
In addition, urgent care facilities can perform all of the functions primary care offices can. Pregnancy tests, routine physicals and pap smears are just some of the services offered by urgent care staff members.
Urgent care offices tend to be in high traffic areas next to other facilities. For example, many facilities are located in strip malls or next to shopping malls. People who use urgent care for a regular medical appointment can complete other errands in one trip.
The business model for urgent care facilities focuses on efficiency. Most urgent care facilities have measures in place to determine how long patients wait, and the amount of time it takes for them to be treated. In most offices, the goal of the staff is for patients to be seen and treated in an hour or less.
Focus on efficiency is lacking in most primary care offices. Oftentimes, doctors are overbooked, or patients are not screened properly at the time their appointment is made. For example, a staff member may schedule a patient in an appointment slot for a routine pap smear when the patient is actually showing symptoms of pelvic inflammation. Mishaps in scheduling like these are absent from the urgent care model. Urgent care patients are seen in the order they arrive at the office. There are no appointments.
Continuity of Care
The biggest argument against using urgent care for routine medical visits is that patients may lose continuity of care. Because each visit to an urgent care facility is only for a particular need, some people argue that patients may not receive a holistic approach to health when visiting urgent care. Most patients and urgent care doctors disagree.
Some urgent care facilities also act as primary care offices. In this case, continuity of care is achieved through the business model. Also, many doctors have found a home in urgent care, and plan to spend their career at an urgent care center. Because of this, patients who visit urgent care are likely to see the same doctor.