BY NADINE COHEN
According to the CDC, visits to hospital emergency rooms in the U.S. reached about 137 million in 2015. Nationwide, 9% of patients who visit emergency rooms are admitted to the hospital, which suggests that many patients seek care for maladies that can be treated elsewhere. This represents a huge drain on hospital services and the ability of physicians to treat actual life-threatening emergency cases.
Since hospitals run 24/7, and two-thirds of all ER visits occur outside of business hours, patients with non-life-threatening ailments divert resources from emergencies that need to be tended to first. And, nearly 25 percent of ER visitors waited four or more hours to be treated and many health insurance programs impose high deductibles for ER visits.
The New York State Department of Health determined that of the state’s 7 million annual ER visits many could have been dealt with in a different, less-costly primary or preventive-care setting.
In a 2018 industry white paper, The Urgent Care Association (UCA) stated that our nation’s health and health care delivery processes are at a time of unprecedented change in clinical practice and policy. Health care spending has escalated to 17.8% of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product — a reportedly unsustainable cost that continues to climb. It went on to say that urgent care medicine has experienced meteoric growth across our country (an $18 billion industry). UCA estimates the reported number of urgent care centers in the U.S. to be approximately 7,639 as of its mid-2017 count totals.
When visiting an urgent care center isn’t an option, a virtual visit could be. Virtual visits provide access to quick, convenient health care when and where you choose. Patients with non-emergency symptoms (such as allergies, nausea, pink eye, sore throat, acne, fever, constipation, etc.) can access on-demand, high-quality care 24/7 using this service via their desktop or mobile app. You will connect with a board-certified physician in real time to receive a diagnosis, treatment plan and prescription as needed.
Nadine Cohen, M.D., FAAP, FACP of CareMount Medical is board certified in internal medicine and pediatrics. She is based at CareMount Medical’s Thornwood urgent care center. She can be reached at 914-242-1370.