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While exhibiting at the 2015 American Academy of Emergency Medicine (AAEM) conference, we talked with many emergency physicians at the Practice Velocity booth about urgent care and freestanding emergency departments, also called freestanding EDs.
We learned that interest in starting provider-owned urgent care centers continues to be very high. Many physicians are seeking assistance in identifying optimal locations, determining facility requirements, selecting EMR software and equipment, securing vendors, determining staffing models and marketing urgent care services to their communities. Newly graduated residents are considering urgent care as an entrepreneurial career path, and seasoned emergency physicians are contemplating a move to urgent care ownership after years in the ED. The Practice Velocity team shared insights and advice with physicians interested in urgent care, and many will be following up with a complimentary visit to Practice Velocity headquarters during which they will meet with experts in urgent care start up, software, contracting, credentialing, and urgent care billing.
With the conference located in Austin, Texas, there were many discussions regarding the contrast between affordable, accessible urgent care and very costly freestanding ED services. Texas has seen explosive growth in freestanding ED. Most attendees expressed surprise that the freestanding ED trend has continued in states that allow it, now that patients and payors have discovered the high cost of using these facilities. Time will tell if payors will continue to be willing to fund the high cost of freestanding ED when urgent care centers provide more appropriate and affordable level of care for non-emergent patients.