By Archita Datta Majumdar
The Affordable Care Act is poised to dramatically change the way we view and experience healthcare. The implementation of this law has paved the way for less costly outpatient care, which has in turn led to a boom in affordable urgent care centers and retail clinics across the country.
The Great Recession has taught consumers to be more informed about spending, and this has spilled over into the healthcare realm. The new generation of patient expectations was the underlying focus of the Forbes Healthcare Summit 2013: Empowering The Patient Revolution, which was held on Oct. 9-10 in New York. The summit featured key thinkers from various healthcare disciplines converging to discuss how the new generation of empowered consumers would drive change in the future.
The pressures faced by the healthcare industry are the result of the economic downturn as well as changing patient demographics. The new generation of patients is technologically advanced and more demanding. These patients will not take anything at face value and will look for more return on their investments than ever seen before. Leaders from various fields are now faced with crucial decisions of reforming existing systems to provide faster, better and cheaper options for patients in future.
Actionable solutions that have resulted from recent changes have been more feasible treatment options like urgent care centers. There are now more than 8,000 urgent and immediate care centers all over the nation, a figure that is set to grow at 8-10 percent per year, according to the Urgent Care Association of America.
Urgent care centers provide quick access to affordable healthcare — timely interventions that could prevent or negate the need for long-term care. This helps the patients, the payers and providers and ultimately the government.
In many ways, the patients are leading this change with their demands for more transparency and better options, harnessing more technology and more information so that they can make informed decision at every step. They want low-cost medical care that is convenient and easy to access.
The summit showcased not just the progressive thoughts of industry leaders but also potential business statistics where the biggest retail players have revealed their plans to set up and operate thousands of urgent care centers operating in another five years, thus actively contributing to the “The Walk-In Clinic Revolution.”
Urgent care and other retail health clinics provide easier access to patients without the usual red tape that is associated with specialist and internal medicine clinics. The other option is an emergency room, which — unless one is facing an extreme condition — might not be a feasible option.
Urgent care clinics operate on weekends and after-office hours. They feature board-certified physicians and nurse practitioners on board as well as limited services like on-site X-rays. Their flexible and extended hours have paved the way for quick, responsive medical treatment without long waits. This has led to their popularity — and, of course, the affordability factor didn’t hurt at all.
The Affordable Care Act has repeatedly stressed the need for high-quality and low-cost care, which has spurred the growth of the walk-in clinics. Private equity financiers and investor-owned companies are moving into the urgent and immediate care business space, and less-costly outpatient care seems to be the new answer to better healthcare.
About the Author
Archita Datta Majumdar has been writing for various industries for more than 14 years. She has contributed articles to The Economic Times, the leading financial daily of India, and she loves research, business analysis and knowledge management, which paves the way for a steep learning curve.
abeo Management Corporation (abeo) serves as a leading source of revenue cycle management and practice management with a specialization in anesthesia. The company leverages its people, processes, and software to serve independent practices, surgery centers, hospitals and healthcare systems with a scope of services that include billing, coding, transcription, practice management, and business consulting.