This may all sound simple, but sometimes what appears to be "I just want a doctor to have a look.", may suddenly become the need to be sent to the hospital or possibly admitted. When this occurs, the patient gets a bill from the urgent care center they went to initially and also the hospital. This can occur when people have pneumonia, mini strokes ect. where a patient was feeling ill for a while and not up to waiting several hours in a hospital emergency room or their primary care physicians office. Because, they do not want to be sent to the hospital they may feel that urgent care is the way to go, because they do x-rays and labs. Urgent care centers are not urgent surgery facilities and they do not perform cardiac bypass surgery or do instant cardiac catherizations, or pre-operative clearance-well maybe, but most people want to go to their primary physician who knows their medical history. Just as pharmacies got in on the craze of giving vaccinations and treating people for minor ailments, urgent care centers began to compete by offering more by way of patient service. Pharmacies indicate what types of services they offer, and urgent care centers should do the same so that people don't walk in and expect a time-lapse hospital. I'm one for expedience and often times struggle with the methods of medical care as opposed to the psychological balance and assurance of the patient. A patient can come to the physicians office a get labs, ekg. ect and a few prescriptions, within 20 minutes or so I want to see if somehow a medical referee comes walking office to office to make sure that each and every patient gets seen in a timely fashion. Then, I have to ponder the psychological balance of the patient, which means it will be another 30 minutes or so.
If patients need to be seen urgently by their primary care eg. bad colds, persistent cough, pre-op clearance or other infections; these patients are seeing their primary doctor in a medical home setting, right? That physician is not only treating them for the illness but they may also check other issues or conditions of care such as blood pressure because of the new medication they are prescribing. With regard to pre-operative clearance, patients find themselves having surgery in a few days and need to be cleared by their primary care physician urgently. If they do not have an appointment, then they have to somehow be put into the schedule along with other patients that are already scheduled. There exists, urgent care centers, mini clinics inside of pharmacies, health clinics or centers, medical homes within private physician practices and hospitals where patients can also be seen by physicians. My point is this concerning the ASAP visit, urgent care visits are those patient visits or appointments whereby a patient calls because of a reason outside of a visit for a physical or routine lab work and needs to be seen within the same day or between 24-48 hours. If this is stated as true, then is it appropriate for a physician to bill or charge that visit as an urgent care visit even though that patient has visited their doctor in a medical home setting of the primary care physicians office? The same type of visit for urgent care can be applied to pre-operative clearance, that is scheduled within the same day or between 24-48 hours of a patients surgery. Because, pre-op clearance is not part of a routine examination and when the surgery is urgent or ASAP the pre-op clearance is scheduled around the times of patients who are already scheduled for a doctors visit. Thus, the urgent care visit charge should apply although this particular visit is still in a medical home setting of the primary care physician.
Physicians need not to compete with urgent care centers, although it would be nice if medical buildings were required to have on site x-ray, or ultrasound departments and maybe even a lab. The ASAP or urgent care visit exists within the needs of the patient, even if they are coming for the first time and are visiting for reasons other than a physical or lab work. Physicians should be allowed to bill for urgent care visits, if that is the reason they see the patient for. Money may not grow on trees, but when you neglect to allow physicians to charge for urgent care visits this is where A-SAP comes from!