Why After-Hours Care Clinics Are Essential for Busy Families
Whether a simple cold or a severe medical emergency, your family deserves the best care possible. And that’s where after-hours care clinics come in. If you or a loved one are suffering from a medical problem beyond your doctors’ working hours, you may need to visit an after-hours care clinic instead of the emergency room. These centers offer urgent medical services at low cost.
After-hours care clinics offer an invaluable service for patients with inflexible schedules between 8 AM and 5 PM. These appointments include therapy sessions, annual physical exams, health coaching, and regular condition monitoring. Some providers say that after-hours care is one of their most popular services. But ensuring that these programs are sustainable and effective requires attention to both policy and practice.
Closer Than You Think
Urgent care centers and retail health clinics are good options if you need minor medical attention or treatment for conditions that require immediate attention but don’t qualify as emergencies. There are also several different types of after-hours care. Some are small and independent, while others are part of large medical systems, which can have multiple locations with extended hours. After-hours care can be essential to support accessible and coordinated health care for patients with complex or high-risk health needs. But, to be effective, after-hours care programs must incorporate feasible and sustainable designs that meet local population needs. In addition, they must be complemented by a shared electronic health record and systematic notification procedures to ensure that information is transferred in real-time between after-hours providers and daytime PCPs.
The key to making after-hours care accessible is scheduling and staffing to meet the needs of patients. Many practices offer after-hours care in addition to their regular hours. For example, a recent survey of solo-practice PCPs indicated that more than 70% of respondents viewed after-hours care as a priority. Some challenges of offering after-hours care include billing codes, insurance reimbursement, and attracting and retaining quality providers. However, support from payers and foundations can help small independent practices design sustainable after-hours models. Another challenge for after-hours care systems is that some physicians and their methods don’t believe they should work irregular schedules. This can be particularly true for small, independent primary care practices. In these cases, staggered shifts allow more flexibility in scheduling and enable staff to provide the extra hours needed without pay or overtime. Sometimes, these shifts are coordinated with an office’s regular operating hours to ensure patients get care when needed. A shared EHR and systematic notification procedures between the daytime PCP and after-hours provider can be beneficial.
Faster Than the ER
When you have a sick child or need medical attention for yourself, you may want it as soon as possible. But that is only sometimes possible, especially if you have work or school commitments. That’s when after-hours care clinics come in handy! Whether you are looking for a doctor to check you up or need help with an injury, these facilities provide immediate care and treatment faster. The wait time is much shorter at an urgent care centers, and they are less expensive. Urgent care centers are staffed by medical experts who can diagnose and treat most illnesses, injuries, and other health issues. They may offer X-rays and laboratory tests to help you determine what’s wrong. They can also help you with prescription refills or fill out forms for your insurance company, and they can point you in the right direction if you need to see a specialist. Some have psychiatrists and dentists on staff, too. These facilities are essential for busy families because they can see you and your child quickly when your regular doctor is unavailable or if you have a severe health issue requiring immediate attention. They can also help you with workers’ compensation and provide the documentation you need to claim it.
Whether you have a family member that is sick or needs medical care for yourself, after-hours care clinics can be an essential part of your health care plan. These medical centers are a convenient alternative to the emergency room, with extended hours and walk-in availability. These centers are open late and on the weekends so that they can provide medical care for non-life-threatening illnesses or injuries. They typically have nurses and doctors on site to treat various issues, including colds, fevers, stomachaches, and sore throats. Many factors impact a patient’s access to health care, and one of the most important is a person’s ability to see their primary care physician (PCP). The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has required that all plans include access to 24-hour primary care, but providers continue to need help ensuring that their patients receive timely, efficient access. The most popular reason families choose to go to these types of facilities is that they want quick and convenient access to professional healthcare. In addition to being accessed at any time, these places can often accommodate people of all ages and are much less expensive than a traditional doctor’s office.
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