Used to be, when I was young and the world seemed to rotate on a different axis- to need medical attention required setting aside most if not all of a day, and then bracing for long waits and in the end- the hope of feeling better. Well two primary shifts have occurred in the atmosphere since my youth: the world no longer is willing to wait (even for treatments), nor does it have to. The Payer led “push” to Urgent Care settings is both a welcomed and needed shift in how healthcare decided to both lower cost while at the same time giving the hope of improving speed.
At issue now is the Urgent Care provider. Technology jokes and healthcare’s slow adoptions are as old as time. Not anymore. Expectations for faster access to data, and faster access to the solution results in a consumer driven dispensary of faster healing. So how can that be an issue? Well, I need to be sure that while the speed increases, the quality of the care improves- something that idealistic care givers have fought to achieve. Especially if they continue to employ paper based processes or worse, tie in to a hospital’s EMR- that can turn an urgent care into a mini-visit to the ER, at least from a wait time perspective.
Providing the highest quality care while measuring the best possible door-to-door time is the critical one-two data punch every Urgent Care should have flashing in every lobby, for all to see. I know of some Urgent Care clinics that will boast of an optimized paper process that gets people in and out quickly. However, the ability to view and act on real time data, provide audit trails and time stamps, dramatically decreases visibility into the operation’s qualitative mission and total accountability. It just does. That said, the best Urgent Care specific EMR, a work-flow that allows for every aspect of the clinical and billing experience to be optimized and tracked- devoid of actually acting on the data and improving the quality of care is equally a fault.
So on the one hand, I am so thankful the time spent in the sterile world of clinical rooms can move at the pace my family and I do. On the other hand, once I can see how the technology of iPad EMR’s (and other tablet-based EMR’s) that were built for the speedy Urgent Care setting is coupled with a dedicated approach to improving care- I will know that there will be no more shifting of the axis. The atmosphere, in fact, will be just fine.
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