GoHealth Urgent Care News

Dignity Health-GoHealth Urgent Care venture opens first center, with a dozen more planned

Source: Healthcare Financce

By Jeff Lagasse

August 5, 2016

Joint venture is part of an overall growth strategy aimed at increasing access to urgent care services, the system says.

Dignity Health-GoHealth Urgent Care, a jo...

Dignity Health-GoHealth Urgent Care venture opens first center, with a dozen more planned

Source: Healthcare Financce

By Jeff Lagasse

August 5, 2016

Joint venture is part of an overall growth strategy aimed at increasing access to urgent care services, the system says.

Dignity Health-GoHealth Urgent Care, a joint venture created to bring urgent care centers to California's Bay Area, this week opened its latest center.

The Dignity Health-GoHealth Urgent Care Castro Center is equipped with new technology, including laboratory and mobile X-ray equipment, to help ensure the accurate diagnosis and treatment of non life-threatening medical conditions.

Officials expect that integration with Dignity's electronic health record system will enable more consistent and informed care, at an affordable cost to consumers. The Castro Center is open 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

The urgent care centers are managed by GoHealth, with clinical services and oversight through the Dignity Health St. Mary's/Saint Francis Medical Foundation.

The joint venture between Dignity and GoHealth dates back to February and is part of an overall growth strategy aimed at increasing access to urgent care services. Over the next 12 to 15 months, 12 or more urgent care centers are planned for San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties, the company said. If additional medical treatment for a patient becomes necessary, the urgent care centers will refer patients to Dignity Health Medical Foundation primary care physicians and specialists. The foundation will maintain clinical oversight of the centers.

"Patients can check in online or walk in to receive high quality care by Dignity Health providers," said Todd Latz, CEO of GoHealth Urgent Care, in a statement, adding that if offers patients a "technology-forward" setting.

San Francisco-based Dignity Health is a 21-state network of nearly 9,000 physicians, 56,000 employees and more than 400 care centers, including hospitals, urgent and occupational care, imaging centers, home health and primary care centers. GoHealth operates urgent care centers in the New York and Portland, Oregon metropolitan areas, and the San Francisco Bay area.

Urgent care centers welcome Castro patients

Source: The Bay Area Reporter

By Matthew S. Bajko

August 4, 2016

Opening within days of each other in prominent upper Market Street storefronts, two urgent care centers are now welcoming Castro residents in need of minor medica...

Urgent care centers welcome Castro patients

Source: The Bay Area Reporter

By Matthew S. Bajko

August 4, 2016

Opening within days of each other in prominent upper Market Street storefronts, two urgent care centers are now welcoming Castro residents in need of minor medical care.

The first to open its doors was Direct Urgent Care, 1998 Market Street, in the corner ground floor space at Linea, the mixed-use development across Buchanan Street from the U.S. Mint building. It soft-opened last Thursday, July 28 and had already seen nearly a dozen patients within 24 hours.

The location is the first in the city for the company, which began in Berkeley and now has four locations in the Bay Area. Co-owners Dr. Caeser Djavaherian and Dr. Jeff Kaufman opened their first Direct Urgent Care two years ago with the aim of providing patients a more affordable, and more convenient, alternative to a hospital emergency room.

"There is a trend toward commercialization in health care. The patient is making decisions based on quality, cost, and convenience," said Djavaherian. "Before, patients were going where their insurance companies told them to go."

On Monday, August 1, Dignity Health-GoHealth Urgent Care soft-opened its first location in the Bay Area at 2288 Market Street, which was formerly occupied by RadioShack and is part of the Market and Noe Center. GoHealth, which also operates urgent care centers in New York and Portland, Oregon, partners with local health systems to offer care to their patients.

Its centers in the Bay Area – it plans to open 12 in the coming months, with locations in the city's Glen Park and Cole Valley neighborhoods set to open in September – are a joint venture with Dignity Health, which is based in San Francisco and operates St. Mary's Medical Center and Saint Francis Memorial Hospital. The care center accepts people with various health insurance plans or those looking to pay out-of-pocket for minor procedures.

"The Dignity Health-GoHealth Urgent Care centers serve patients across the board – this includes patients with various health care needs and insurance," explained Chuck Kruger, GoHealth's president of the northern California market. "The partnership, itself, was created to help provide local Bay Area community members with the highest quality of care at reasonable costs. Through this, we can make health care accessible to all, and encourage residents to visit one of our centers and personally experience its culture of care, themselves."

In an interview with the Bay Area Reporter, Kruger said the company is targeting neighborhoods with a lot of foot traffic on the street and easily accessible by transit.

"We got extremely lucky with this particular spot at Duboce and Market," he said. "It is the perfect example of where we want to be."

While the two urgent care providers are competitors, neither is worried about being able to attract patients.

"I think the market is large enough, and clearly there is a need for care easily accessible and affordable that people can access in their own neighborhoods," said Kruger.

Direct Urgent Care also accepts various health insurance plans and has priced its services to make it an affordable option for those paying out-of-pocket. It is also offering video consultations and house calls for patients that cost a flat fee of $175 plus the cost of any blood or urine tests.

"We are hoping to differentiate ourselves in the market," said Djavaherian. "San Francisco for us is a great way to access all the startups that are likeminded."

Direct Urgent Care has 15 employees staffing the Castro location. It is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week, while its mobile service is available from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day.

Dignity Health-GoHealth has hired four full-time practitioners, who are either physicians or nurses of the Dignity Health Medical Group, and one part-time person to staff its center at all times. It is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday-Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

It is hosting a grand opening event and ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. Tuesday, August 9 for the Castro location.

"At this location, and future Bay Area centers, Dignity Health clinicians will have the resources and tools they need to ensure that all urgent care patients are treated with the same level of high-quality, low cost care that we provide to all of the patients in our health system," stated Dr. Todd Strumwasser, senior vice president of operations for the San Francisco Bay Area.

Dignity, GoHealth teaming up for 12 Bay Area urgent care centers

Source: San Francisco Chronicle

By Victoria Colliver

August 1, 2016

A former RadioShack on Market Street in the Castro neighborhood has been transformed into an urgent care center, opening Monday, that will be staffed by San Fr...

Dignity, GoHealth teaming up for 12 Bay Area urgent care centers

Source: San Francisco Chronicle

By Victoria Colliver

August 1, 2016

A former RadioShack on Market Street in the Castro neighborhood has been transformed into an urgent care center, opening Monday, that will be staffed by San Francisco’s Dignity Health. A few blocks away, where a gas station once stood, an urgent care center opened last week.

These centers, alternatives to long waits in emergency departments or waiting weeks to get an appointment with a primary doctor, are a growing trend to treat people with non-life-threatening conditions at lower costs and greater convenience to patients as well as the health care system.

On Monday, Dignity, California’s largest private hospital network and one of the largest health care systems in the country, is opening the first of 12 Bay Area urgent care centers it will run with GoHealth Urgent Care, an Atlanta company that operates centers in New York City and Portland, Ore. The San Francisco center at 2288 Market marks the company’s first in California.

“We look at the amount of money Americans pay for health care compared to other nations in the world, and we pay too much and get too little,” said Dr. Todd Strumwasser, Dignity Health’s senior vice president of operations. “The way to change that is by reducing waste. This is something we’re trying to accomplish with our urgent care centers.”

Direct Urgent Care, a Berkeley startup, opened its fourth center at 1998 Market on Thursday. Its others are in Berkeley, Oakland and Mountain View.

There are nearly 7,000 urgent care centers nationwide, according to the Urgent Care Association of America. The trade group said this figure includes only those centers with extended hours that can provide X-rays, lab work and other urgent services. This distinguishes them from the retail centers found in large chain stores, pharmacies and malls that have limited services such as flu shots and are typically not staffed by doctors.

Source: Crain’s New York Business

By Jonathan LaMantia

May 20, 2016

Health experts say urgent care centers have increased in popularity in recent years, capitalizing on reforms imposed by the federal Affordable Care Act that make it less lucrative for hospitals to treat patients in expensive emergency rooms. Many hospital systems, like Sutter Health, operate their own urgent care centers. Others are independent or work with a local provider.

“Urgent cares are popping up in the last few years. They’re a great alternative” to the emergency room, said Steven Rousso, a principal with HFS Consultants, an Oakland firm that works with hospitals and centers.

Add to that the increasing patient co-payments for emergency care and a shortage of primary care doctors, and urgent care centers become an even more appealing option.

“There are all these new models where the hospitals are more at risk, and it’s less expensive to treat (patients) in an urgent care setting,” said Maribeth Shannon, a program director who tracks health care markets for the California HealthCare Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization in Oakland.

“Where there used to be (financial) incentives to get patients into the ER or into a bed in the hospital, there are more incentives to treat patients as economically and conveniently as possible,” she said.

Shannon said that Southern California and other parts of the country have been quicker to catch on to the trend than Northern California, but that is starting to change.

Several large companies operate hundreds of urgent care centers nationwide, including Concentra and US HealthWorks, the latter also owned by Dignity Health but specializing in occupational health. But smaller firms like Direct Urgent Care and Stat Med Urgent Care, which operates in Concord and Lafayette, have entered the market.

“The premise of the urgent care business is that the health care system is broken,” said Dr. Caesar Djavaherian, who specializes in emergency medicine and founded Berkeley’s Direct Urgent Care in 2013. “More urgent cares are popping up around the country. It’s to provide much more cost-effective and convenient health care to communities.”

Djavaherian said Direct’s centers strive to appeal to tech-savvy patients by allowing them to check in or track wait times online and being the first to use the Eko Core Digital Stethoscope, which uploads information to Direct Urgent Care’s electronic medical record. The stethoscope is made by Berkeley’s Eko Devices Inc., and the company’s records and billing portal was developed by Drchrono, a Mountain View firm.

“We’ve been using our location in Silicon Valley to partner with really innovative health technology companies,” Djavaherian said. “It’s exciting as a doctor to think outside the old-way-of-delivering-medicine box.”

GoHealth Urgent Care also has some high-tech flourishes, such as a tablet check-in and large, flat-screen monitors in the spacious exam rooms for doctors to share information and view X-rays with patients. The rooms have smart glass, which allows the walls to go from clear to opaque with the switch of a button.

But GoHealth officials say one of the company’s primary appeals is the strategy of working with existing health care providers in the region. GoHealth provides the administrative staff while Dignity Health, which operates Saint Francis and St. Mary’s medical centers in the city, provides the doctors, nurse practitioners, physicians’ assistants and other health professionals.

“It immediately gives a little bit of extra credibility to something new in developing centers in the area,” said Chuck Kruger, president of GoHealth’s Northern California region.

The center accepts health insurance, and Kruger said the staff will help uninsured patients who qualify to enroll in Medi-Cal or Covered California, the state’s health insurance marketplace. The center’s electronic health records will integrate seamlessly with Dignity Health’s system, while patients who use other providers may request digital records they can transfer to their doctors.

Kruger and others in the field note that patients experiencing potentially life-threatening conditions should not be treated at an urgent care center and should head to a full-scale emergency department.

Urgent care centers are designed to treat minor injuries or illnesses like sprained ankles, urinary tract infections and mild asthma. Patients who arrive with serious symptoms are transferred to a nearby hospital for treatment.

GoHealth has aggressive expansion plans and is set to open centers in Glen Park and Cole Valley in late September, followed by additional openings in San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties over the year.

While the centers take same-day appointments, they rely heavily on walk-ins and are typically located in urban locations with heavy foot traffic and transit access.

“Our model is very much neighborhood, community-based, and this is a great example of that,” said Kruger as he walked through the Castro center a few days before the opening.

Victoria Colliver is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @vcolliver

GoHealth Urgent Care’s Castro center will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends.

GoHealth Urgent Care To Open Centers In Castro, Cole Valley, Glen Park By September

Source: Hoodline

By Walter Thompson

July 25, 2016

Speculation over vacant storefronts can come to an end in several neighborhoods: GoHealth Urgent Care is opening locations in the Castro, Cole Valley, and Glen Park by Septem...

GoHealth Urgent Care To Open Centers In Castro, Cole Valley, Glen Park By September

Source: Hoodline

By Walter Thompson

July 25, 2016

Speculation over vacant storefronts can come to an end in several neighborhoods: GoHealth Urgent Care is opening locations in the CastroCole Valley, and Glen Park by September, with potential locations in Noe Valley and Divisadero to come. 

Along with local partner Dignity Health, the Atlanta-based company is repurposing commercial storefronts into high-tech urgent care centers that can treat patients seeking relief from minor ailments like bee stings, wrist fractures, or a nasty burn.

"You take the best of retail, the best of clinical and the best of technology, and you make it very convenient and accessible for the patients," said Gary Weatherford, GoHealth's COO.

Weatherford was in town to inspect and offer media tours of GoHealth's Castro center at 2288 Market St., previously the home of Radio Shack. The center will be the first to open in the city, with a soft opening on August 1st and a grand opening event on August 9th. Weatherford said residents and passers-by are invited to stop by between now and then to take a look at the space.

In September, GoHealth plans to open a Cole Valley location at 930 Cole, the former auto garage now undergoing renovations, and another location in Glen Park, at 2895 Diamond St. Weatherford says the company is also working on locations on Divisadero and in Noe Valley, but those leases have yet to be signed.

Because urban car use is declining, Weatherford said GoHealth's plan is to place centers in shopping districts around the city; they're using a similar strategy in Portland and New York City. "The access of care was not as available as it needs to be," he said. "More and more, people want to be able to stay within their community, and that's what our model is."

On average, Weatherford said, GoHealth centers are about 2,000 square feet, with four exam rooms. To keep costs down, each location is staffed with one medical professional (a doctor, nurse practitioner, physician's assistant) and a radiology technician. In a 12-hour day, one GoHealth center might see 36 patients.

"Obviously, they're supervised by MDs," said Weatherford. "We utilize that model because we believe it's assigning the proper level of care for the proper level of acuity." Patients can call ahead or use the company's app to make an appointment, complete with a list of wait times at different centers around town; as patient volume increases, they'll hire a receptionist.

Most medical exam rooms are about six by eight feet, but Weatherford said GoHealth's rooms are larger, roughly nine by twelve. Each suite is a combination of technology, ergonomics and feng shui. For example, an oversized mirror at the sink ensures providers can maintain eye contact with patients at all times. A mobile x-ray machine sits at the ready, while a wireless keyboard can pull up patient data on a giant monitor bolted to the wall.

Weatherford flicks a switch, and a translucent glass wall looking out on the center's waiting room and busy Market Street turns opaque. "Smart glass," he explains.

Most of GoHealth's patients arrive with everyday ailments like upper respiratory infections, minor fractures, and UTIs, said Weatherford, who emphasized that no narcotics are kept on the premises. "If you have a broken bone sticking out, you need to go to the ER."

GoHealth is in the process of joining several merchants associations in its new neighborhoods. In the Castro, "we've met with all the people, and the feedback's been very favorable," he said.

To better integrate into neighborhoods, Weatherford said GoHealth hires locally and assigns medical providers to one location. "In essence, they become the owners of it," he said. "People get used to seeing the same people here." 

Because of its association with Dignity Health, "we're available to anyone in the community who needs health care," said Weatherford. "That's why we partner with the dominant health systems in the markets—because they take anybody, and that's what we want to do."

Customer Loyalty Is Spelled N-P-S

Source : Entrepreneur

By Contributor Todd Latz, CEO of GoHealth Urgent Care

July 8, 2016

Superior customer loyalty is critically important for any successful business. However, many leaders struggle with how to effectively meas...

Customer Loyalty Is Spelled N-P-S

Source : Entrepreneur

By Contributor Todd Latz, CEO of GoHealth Urgent Care

July 8, 2016

Superior customer loyalty is critically important for any successful business. However, many leaders struggle with how to effectively measure it. How loyal are your customers? What are they saying about your products or services to others? Do they promote you to others and provide an incredibly valuable word-of-mouth endorsement? To answer these questions, we look to Net Promoter Scores (NPS).

Read more at : https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/277981

Legacy-GoHealth finds right spot in Lake Oswego

Source: Lake Oswego Review

By Cliff Newell

June 30, 2016

Urgent care center opens doors at Mountain Park center

Legacy-GoHealth Urgent Care has found a sweet spot in the middle when it comes to American health care....

Legacy-GoHealth finds right spot in Lake Oswego

Source: Lake Oswego Review

By Cliff Newell

June 30, 2016

Urgent care center opens doors at Mountain Park center

Legacy-GoHealth Urgent Care has found a sweet spot in the middle when it comes to American health care.

That spot now includes Lake Oswego, since the company opened its newest urgent care center at 3 Monroe Parkway in Mountain Park Shopping Center. Andy Barnett, medical director for GoHealth Urgent Care Northwest, foresees a healthy future for everyone involved.

“There has been a lot of planning in making this site selection,” Barnett said. “We wanted to make sure we’re in the right place to focus on the best customer experience and give them the care they deserve.”

Legacy-GoHealth Urgent Care has been on a roll recently. The company now has 12 urgent care centers in Oregon and two in Washington, and Barnett said this success has come from establishing a clear place in the health care hierarchy; between emergency care centers and primary care providers.

“We feel an urgent care center is an ‘everyone wins’ scenario,” Barnett said. “We’re able to focus on the same-day needs in a way that will satisfy both patients and insurance companies. This is part of the volume to value movement in health care.

“We believe we can manage the care of any patient who doesn’t need a hospital. We can cut down the use of emergency rooms. We can reduce wait times and overall costs dramatically. We can also unburden primary care providers who treat more chronic health issues.”

The new center in Lake Oswego will feature onsite x-rays, lab work, and a full range of diagnostic procedures and fracture management. It is staffed by licensed medical providers and medical assistants. Types of illnesses and injuries that can receive ready treatment include infections, lacerations, fractures, work injuries, motor accidents, and much more.

The doors of Legacy-GoHealth Urgent Care in Lake Oswego have been open for only a few weeks, but it’s already apparent it is meeting a need.

“We’ve already seen a quick increase in patients,” Barnett said. “That has been in line with our expectations. Our feedback has been very positive.”

For more about Legacy-GoHealth Urgent Care in Lake Oswego, go towww.legacyhealth.org/locations/centers/urgent-care/lake-oswego.aspx or call 503-679-3748.

Critics question the benefit of walk-in centers

Source: Modern Healthcare

By Caroline Lewis

June 28, 2016

It's not hard to see the appeal of urgent care centers: They're open evenings and weekends, you can walk in without an appointment and, in some neighborhoods in New York...

Critics question the benefit of walk-in centers

Source: Modern Healthcare

By Caroline Lewis

June 28, 2016

It's not hard to see the appeal of urgent care centers: They're open evenings and weekends, you can walk in without an appointment and, in some neighborhoods in New York City, they're becoming nearly as ubiquitous as Starbucks. While critics say urgent-care patients miss out on the quality of care that comes with a long-term doctor-patient relationship, these walk-in centers have set a new precedent for convenience and customer service that the city's public health system and other providers are trying to replicate.

Atlanta-based urgent care chain GoHealth has 23 urgent care centers in New York, and plans to almost double its presence here by the end of the year. But it isn't trying to compete with primary care doctors, said Todd Latz, the company's chief executive officer.

"We've driven more people back into primary care than we've taken from it," said Latz, during a panel discussion on urgent care at Crain's "Disruption at the Doctor's Office" health care summit Monday. He added that GoHealth's relationship with Long Island-based health system Northwell Health allows it to direct patients to specialists or other types of providers if necessary.

Desk clerks at GoHealth always ask patients if they have primary care doctors, and ask those who don't if they want one, Latz said. Some people do accept GoHealth's offer to help them find a primary care doctor whom they could visit for more continuous care, but he said millennials are generally not interested.

"They generally view health care as episodic in nature," he said.

Urgent care resonates with people who are used to the on-demand nature of other industries, agreed Dr. Michael Goldstein, a Manhattan ophthalmologist and president of the New York County Medical Society. "The same person who decides they need to order shoes online at 12 o'clock at night goes to the urgent care center," he said.

But there are downsides to episodic care that many patients are unaware of, Goldstein argued. Urgent care centers—which are often staffed by physician assistants or other mid-level professionals, rather than medical doctors—won't necessarily be able to catch serious medical problems. They may also be more prone to misdiagnoses and are less equipped to help patients handle chronic conditions like diabetes, said Goldstein.

NYC Health + Hospitals, the city's public hospital system, is working to adopt the ease of access and customer service offered by urgent care at its outpatient centers, said Steven Bussey, chief of ambulatory care at H+H. That means extending hours and rapidly adding new locations.

But Bussey emphasized that the health system's main objective is to improve patient health over the long term—a goal that also has financial motivations. Increasingly, Medicaid and other insurers are devising payment models that reimburse providers based on improvements in the health of their patients.

"If you're not delivering outcomes, you're not going to get paid," said Bussey. He said the key is to coordinate patients' care and educate them about their medical needs.

Dr. Richard Park, chief executive of urgent care chain CityMD, which has more than 50 locations in the metro area, insisted his chain also aims get patients to change their behavior for the better. The way to do that is by generating a high level of trust, he said.

"I'm not talking about just any level of trust," said Park. "You need to create Oprah-like trust."

Asked whether the involvement of private investors in urgent care could present a conflict of interest, Latz and Park said they simply make sure they choose partners whose missions align with their own.

"If you can't deliver the appropriate level of care, engage with patients and create an environment that they want to return to, it won't matter what your original financial investment thesis was—it won't be successful," said Latz.

Working with private investors isn't off the table for the city's public hospital system, said Bussey. He noted that the state has been looking into the role of private investors in health care for many years.

"It's a tough conversation to have," said Bussey. "It depends on the circumstances and how you make it lucrative to the partners on both sides."

"Do urgent care centers have your best interest in mind?" originally appeared in Crain's New York Business.

Critics question the benefit of walk-in centers

Source: Modern Healthcare

By Caroline Lewis

June 28, 2016

It's not hard to see the appeal of urgent care centers: They're open evenings and weekends, you can walk in without an appointment and, in some neighborhoods in New York ...

Critics question the benefit of walk-in centers

Source: Modern Healthcare

By Caroline Lewis

June 28, 2016

It's not hard to see the appeal of urgent care centers: They're open evenings and weekends, you can walk in without an appointment and, in some neighborhoods in New York City, they're becoming nearly as ubiquitous as Starbucks. While critics say urgent-care patients miss out on the quality of care that comes with a long-term doctor-patient relationship, these walk-in centers have set a new precedent for convenience and customer service that the city's public health system and other providers are trying to replicate.

Read more at : http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20160628/NEWS/160629907

Why You Should Avoid Taking Ibuprofen When You’re Drinking

Source : SELF

By Amy Marturana

June 22, 2016

Lots of medications come with the warning to avoid alcohol when you’re taking them. Antibiotics are a tough one to accept, especially if you’re not feeling particularly sick from...

Why You Should Avoid Taking Ibuprofen When You’re Drinking

Source : SELF

By Amy Marturana

June 22, 2016

Lots of medications come with the warning to avoid alcohol when you’re taking them. Antibiotics are a tough one to accept, especially if you’re not feeling particularly sick from what ails you. But reading the labels on pain relievers like Advil (ibuprofen) and Tylenol (acetaminophen) and learning that severe side effects are more likely when you mix them with booze feels downright torturous—especially when your head is pounding and popping a few pills promises sweet relief.

Read more at : http://www.self.com/wellness/2016/06/why-you-shouldnt-mix-ibuprofen-and-alcohol/

Northwell Health-GoHealth Urgent Care Leverages Health IT to Support Transparent, Patient-Centered Care

Source: Healthcare Informatics

By Heather Landi

June 14, 2016

Northwell Health-GoHealth Urgent Care has designed its urgent care centers with a focus on using health IT and technology to enhance the patient experience.

The...

Northwell Health-GoHealth Urgent Care Leverages Health IT to Support Transparent, Patient-Centered Care

Source: Healthcare Informatics

By Heather Landi

June 14, 2016

Northwell Health-GoHealth Urgent Care has designed its urgent care centers with a focus on using health IT and technology to enhance the patient experience.

The consumerization of healthcare is an ongoing trend, and many healthcare industry leaders see a more patient-centric approach to healthcare as the only way for healthcare delivery organizations and providers to keep pace.

Consumers are now empowered by technology to have more access to health information and are taking more of an active role in their care, and are also accustomed to convenience when engaging with other businesses, and are bringing those expectations to healthcare. Case in point, urgent care is now one of the fastest growing segments of the healthcare industry, according to market research firm IBISWorld, as consumers look for faster and more convenient options as an alternative to visiting the emergency room or waiting for an appointment with a primary care physician. The American Academy of Urgent Care Medicine (AAUCM) cites an ongoing shortage of primary care and family medicine physicians, the contraction of emergency departments and patients’ greater access to health information as trends that are fueling the growth of urgent care. There are approximately 9,300 stand-alone urgent care centers in the U.S. and 50 to 100 new centers open every year, according to AAUCM.

In response to this demand for convenience and with the idea of bringing care to patients where they are, Great Neck, N.Y.-based Northwell Health, in partnership with GoHealth Urgent Care, designed its network of urgent care centers with a focus on transparency and patient-centered care, with health IT and technology playing a large role.

Northwell Health, formerly North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System, began a partnership with GoHealth Urgent Care in November 2014 to operate Northwell Health-GoHealth urgent care centers throughout the New York City area. Through the partnership, Northwell Health-GoHealth Urgent Care now operates 23 urgent care centers, with plans to open 15 more by the end of this year.

The facilities feature windows with smart glass technology for greater transparency

Robert Korn, M.D., medical director for the Northwell Health-GoHealth urgent care centers, says the health system’s expansion into urgent care services helps to further the continuity of care for health system patients. The urgent care centers feature an integrated electronic medical record (EMR) system enabling updated patient medical records to be accessed and shared by providers across the system, including Northwell Health’s 21 hospitals and more than 450 patient facilities and private practices. And, as the center’s have x-ray and laboratory services, any x-rays or diagnostic images taken at the urgent care centers are integrated into the health system’s picture archiving and communications (PACs) system, Korn says.

“Urgent care is a place where patients are going for convenience and that includes people who have gone to Northwell for many years. And, if those patients visit an urgent care center that’s in the Northwell system, then we can wrap that patient back if they need more advanced care to our own physicians and hospitals,” Korn says.

In the exams rooms, physicians and clinicians use surface laptops to connect to the eClinicalWorks EMR system, and the patient record is presented on a large screen, enabling patients to view their patient record along with the physician. Korn, who served as the longtime head of emergency medicine at Northwell’s Southside Hospital, considers this detail—letting the patient see the patient record on a large screen—as a big step forward in enhancing the provider-patient relationship.

 “The medical record is not a device to separate me from the patients, it’s a device to integrate the patients into their care,” Korn says. “So with a typical EMR, when a patient goes to the doctor, they have a two-way interaction and then the doctor turns away to work on the computer. The patient spends 10 minutes watching the doctor work. At the same time, the doctor didn’t get the benefit of the patients’ knowledge of their health information while they were working. It’s possible that the doctor writes something down that the patient didn’t say or forgot to write something that the patient said.

He continues, “What we’ve done here is, we have turned that on its head. As I’m talking to the patient, I’m documenting and recording what they are saying, and the patient is watching me and the screen, so it’s a shared experience. It changes the doctor-patient experience to a more egalitarian experience. The patient feels involved. And it’s more transparent as the patient can catch any mistakes.”

“Also, he adds, “I’ve just cut the time it takes to document the patient’s care in half because, instead of speaking to the patient then turn turning away and documenting what they’ve said, I’m using a template and recording what the patient says as we go along and all my time is with the patient.”

Korn says he also uses the medical record and the screen as a teaching tool for the patients’ discharge instructions. “Typically, when a patient goes to the ER, we hand them several sheets of paper with instructions. Here, we can use pictures within the EMR to explain it to the patient. For instance, I can show a picture of the anatomy of the inner ear up on the screen when talking to a patient complaining of ear pain,” he says.

The urgent care centers were specifically designed to bring the best of retail and hospitality into healthcare, Northwell Health officials say. One innovative feature is the use of smart glass technology windows to enable transparency into the exam rooms. When there is a need for privacy, the windows can be dimmed or changed to opaque. “This enables a feeling of openness so the patient can see the facility end-to-end and can see into the exam room so they get a notion of the level of acuity we can do and the care we are able to provide,” says Todd Latz, CEO of GoHealth Urgent Care.

Korn says the openness of the urgent care center design fosters a sense of transparency not typically found in most hospital emergency rooms.

“When you go to an ER what do you see? A window that slides back and someone gives you something to fill out and then you’re left there until they call you back, “he says “Here, our relationship with the patient stars when the patient walks in the door, and even if I’m sitting at my desk, if I raise my eyes, I make eye contact with the patient. So the relationship with the patient is continuous, they walk in and see me working and that works for me, because if the patient sees that I’m very busy, they might be more tolerant about a short wait.”

“We use [smart glass technology windows] across a number of our emergency departments as well to provide that transparent experience,” Adam Boll, vice president of strategic ventures and ambulatory services at Northwell Health, says.

As most of the urgent care centers are located in the five boroughs of New York City, where space is at a premium, the facilities are designed to maximize clinical space and minimize hallways with sliding doors and mobile x-ray equipment.

The urgent care centers also were designed with a focus on a technology-enabled process for patients, with mobile appointment check-ins, the ability to check wait times online and integration with Uber in order for patients to have transportation to or from the centers.

Boll says the partnership with GoHealth Urgent Care is part of the health system’s larger push into leveraging joint ventures with healthcare services and healthcare technology vendors to “bring care into the communities where patients live and work.”

“As a health system, we have put a heavy focus on getting care to people where they live and work, and it’s the same across our other business lines. With our ambulatory surgery centers, the idea is to move surgery that is not appropriate anymore for a hospital setting closer to where patients spend most of their time. And, it’s the same thing with our partnership to operate outpatient dialysis centers throughout the community to make it easier for patients so they don’t to travel to the dialysis centers that are attached to our facilities or our other acute care centers,” Boll says.

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