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Eliminate The Waiting Room
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Ariella
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Ariella,
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10/1/2014 | 10:02:10 AM
Urgent Care
If my own neighborhood is any indication, these Urgent Care centers are becoming nearly as common as drug stores. I think three or four opened up with a 3 mile radius.
Alison_Diana
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Alison_Diana,
User Rank: Author
10/1/2014 | 10:10:59 AM
Re: Urgent Care
They are increasingly common, in part I think because more people are insured these days and there are fewer traditional general practitioners. In my area, we have about five in a 15-mile radius.

I haven't been to Impact Urgent Care but I think their approach of focusing, in part, on waiting rooms is smart. Not only are patients happier because they can wait at home, the mall, or library, but obviously the clinic itself is better managed and more profitable as a result because it can see more patients. In addition to the tech I described, the clinic makes it a practice to check in with patients in examining rooms every 10 minutes to allay fears they've been forgotten -- one of my pet peeves when I'm at a doctor's office! And they have more ideas of how to use tech in the future to further engage and enhance patient satisfaction. She sees IT as a huge differentiator and said she is unafraid to spend on tech to boost patient care, satisfaction, and probably profits.
Ariella
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Ariella,
User Rank: Author
10/1/2014 | 10:15:25 AM
Re: Urgent Care
@Alison so the proportions are about the same. We actually have quite a lot of doctors in the area, but I suppose that for people who don't think of themselves as having a doctor or who just can't make it in during the banker's hours some offer, there would still be a market for that kind of service. 

You touch on one of the things that really annoy me when going to the doctor or bringing my kids in. You're shown into an exam room to give the impression you're making progress, but then you can wait up to another 50 minutes to be seen -- often for just a 5 minute thing. 
Gary_EL
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Gary_EL,
User Rank: Ninja
10/1/2014 | 2:22:50 PM
Re: Urgent Care
What a great idea. I'd much rather wait comfortably in the Starbucks downstairs than in the noisy, super-high stress waiting room. My only suggestion is that the system include some type of paging device for people who arrive without a smartphone to get the call that the clinician can see them.
Ariella
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Ariella,
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10/1/2014 | 2:28:43 PM
Re: Urgent Care
@Gary_El that's a great idea! They could also use an alert system that's independent of the phone.  I once went to a fast food place that had some kind of light up system to let customers know when their orders were ready. You could assign patients a number that lights up on a board when the person's turn arrives.
Alison_Diana
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Alison_Diana,
User Rank: Author
10/2/2014 | 9:22:35 AM
Re: Urgent Care
I hope facilities such as this (which I really wish I could have tested out in person because nothing like it exists near me, I'm afraid!) become the norm, rather than the exception. Far too often, I find patients are not treated as valuable. It's one reason I embrace the movement to population health and patient engagement. 
Alison_Diana
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Alison_Diana,
User Rank: Author
10/2/2014 | 9:26:19 AM
Re: Urgent Care
Linda from Impact Urgent Care did look at and consider the paging devices common at popular restaurants. The problem she found was they only covered a limited area: Patients would have been restricted to a very small radius so they wouldn't be able to leave the immediate area. I'm not sure whether the system they use now allows them to notify patients that their appointment is nearing via email or landline -- but I do like the idea of lending out pagers or something. However, that means the patient then has to stop by the office first, which would work in the case of a drop-in consumer who is often a user of walk-in clinics.

 
Li Tan
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Li Tan,
User Rank: Ninja
10/2/2014 | 10:37:47 AM
Re: Urgent Care
The idea is cool. I am willing to see how it will work in reality. This is similar to modern airlines - you can check-in and change your seat reservation online. But health care is a different business compared to airline. Each patient has diverse situation and needs different treatement. Although I am not a profession in this area, I believe some factors such as the urgency, etc. needs to be taken into account when designing queuing system.
Alison_Diana
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Alison_Diana,
User Rank: Author
10/2/2014 | 10:58:18 AM
Re: Urgent Care
That's why the system Impact uses seems to work well for them: They can manage it in real-time, based on the patients' needs and the amount of time those in consulting rooms need, plus the amount of time patients need to travel to the clinic. As you say, airlines and healthcare are two very different industries but that's why existing systems -- of separating patients by 10- or 15-minute intervals -- just don't work, either.
PedroGonzales
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PedroGonzales,
User Rank: Ninja
10/2/2014 | 3:05:50 PM
Re: Urgent Care
I'm really happy that positive changes are finally happening in healthcare.  It seems that the challenge of these systems is that they are often not replicable in other health care settings.  Due to the diversity of health care settings, one approach for one may not be the solution for another one.  As the article pointed out, creating partnerships is really the key. could there be solutions that are applicable to a state which can be applied at the national level?
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