Washington Post: Clinics take burden off ER for less

NEW YORK Washington Post op-ed column. —Establishing more retail-based clinics—and investing in such allied professionals as nurse practitioners—could be key to easing the pressure on overburdened emergency rooms. That advice is not coming from an executive at a retail-based clinic operator, or even an industry analyst; it’s from an emergency room doctor telling it like it is in a

It is no secret that ER visits have been—and continue to be—on the rise. However, if the recently passed healthcare-reform bill is not coupled with an aggressive game plan to deliver healthcare services to the millions of newly insured, the ER will continue to be the first place many seek care, the op-ed stated. One way to steer some of the patients with only minor ailments away from bottlenecked ERs: Establish more retail-based clinics.

“First, establish more offices and clinics that are not based in hospitals—and do not carry hospital overhead. The recent trend toward low-cost, retail- and pharmacy-based clinics has been a relative success for what these facilities offer: quick evaluation and treatment for simple problems. They have been found to cost less than one-fifth of what an ER costs for the same complaint.… Second, invest in allied professionals and paraprofessionals, such as nurse practitioners, physician assistants and medical technicians, to deliver much of this basic care. Training more primarycare physicians will not be enough,” the op-ed stated.

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