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The Urgent Care Trend and the Need for Board Certification in Urgent Care Medicine

10-22-2011 03:39 AM CET | Health & Medicine

Press release from: American Academy of Urgent Care Medicine

The Urgent Care Trend and the Need for Board Certification

For several years, descriptions of the healthcare system in the United States have included phrases such as “serious emergency room overcrowding,” “unraveling safety net,” and “emergency medicine in crisis.” Every year, more than 119 million patients visit hospital emergency departments, and approximately 40 percent of those patients have conditions that do not require high-level emergency care. The steadily increasing need for immediate care in this country has resulted in overcrowded emergency rooms in nearly every community. For a variety of reasons, many people chose emergency rooms to receive prompt care for medical needs which arise suddenly. With so many people seeking care, the crisis mounts.

Luckily, there is a way to increase the ability of the healthcare system to meet the increased demand. Enter the Urgent Care Medicine solution. Urgent Care Medicine is the provision of immediate medical service offering outpatient care for the treatment of acute and chronic illness and injury. Urgent Care centers are designed to lighten the load on local emergency departments by treating non-life medical conditions and injuries.

The walk-in basis and extended hours of Urgent Care clinics is convenient for patients. The waiting times and overall treatment times are, on average, significantly less than that for similar evaluation and treatment in the emergency room. Also, the price of an Urgent Care visit is significantly less than that of an emergency room visit. A patient seeking care in the emergency room might receive hospital bills totaling several hundred dollars. The same type of care, provided in an Urgent Care clinic setting, would be priced hundreds of dollars less. Because there are no hospital facility charges and the professional fees are lower, the cost of similar care and treatment is lower in the Urgent Care clinic than in the emergency room. Using Urgent Care clinics for the treatment of these common problems is more efficient and economical. This is applies to both insured and self-pay patients.

The public is learning that Urgent Care is the better choice; patients are increasingly utilizing Urgent Care clinics for their immediate healthcare needs. There are currently 20,000 physicians who practice Urgent Care Medicine today, and the number is growing. There are approximately 8,000 walk-in, stand-alone urgent care centers in the United States with new clinics opening every year.

The absolute need for Board Certification in the field of Urgent Care Medicine is increasing rapidly. Board certification in Urgent Care Medicine signals a physician’s commitment and expertise in consistently achieving superior clinical outcomes in a responsive, patient-focused setting. Patients, fellow physicians, healthcare providers, insurers and quality organizations look for to Board Certification as the best measure of a physician’s knowledge, experience and skills to provide quality healthcare within their specialty. As patients and insurers are increasingly finding that Urgent Care Medicine is a viable and economical option versus care in the emergency department, so will the need for physician certification in this specialty.

An argument can be made that, because of the unique nature of Urgent Care Medicine, no other Board Certification truly applies. Board Certification in Internal Medicine provides that a physician provides long-term, comprehensive care. Clearly, the treatments of these types of issues are not those for which a patient is expected to receive in an Urgent Care capacity, nor do Urgent Care physicians practice this type of care. Being Board Certified by the Board of Emergency Medicine is not tailored to the types of treatment provided by an Urgent Care physician either. Emergency Medicine focuses on immediate decision making and action necessary to prevent death or any further disability both in the pre-hospital setting…and in the emergency department. Again, these issues are not those that an Urgent Care physician handles during the course of daily practice.

Board Certification in Urgent Care Medicine recognizes excellence in the discipline of Urgent Care Medicine. The purpose of certification in Urgent Care Medicine is to define the domain of knowledge and clinical skills expected of the Urgent Care physician, to provide a valid assessment of knowledge demonstrated by the Urgent Care physician, to encourage continued professional development in the field of Urgent Care Medicine, and to serve the public by encouraging quality patient care.

The American Academy of Urgent Care Medicine (AAUCM) is a national organization which represents thousands of physicians who practice urgent care medicine in various clinical settings throughout the United States. The purpose of the AAUCM is to contribute to the field of urgent care medicine in the areas of professional growth, scientific and medical research, and medical education, all to improve the overall quality of medical care. Our mission is to advance the profession of urgent care medicine by elevating its standards through education, basic and advanced training, and to encourage physicians to seek board certification in urgent care medicine.

For More Information, Contact:
Cari Withrow
American Academy of Urgent Care Medicine
2813 S. Hiawassee Rd., Suite 206
Orlando, FL 32835-6690

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