By Dr. John Jones
Simplicity Urgent Care
Having worked in emergency rooms from DC to Boston, I have watched thousands of patients without life-threatening problems sit in the waiting room for hours before being seen by a doctor.
And I became curious. Why did so many people end up in the ER who didn’t have to be there?
So, after their visit was through, I began asking my patients why they chose an emergency department over other sources of health care.
Based on their feedback, here are the top three reasons patients choose go to the ER:
1. They don’t have a relationship with a regular medical doctor.
As the health-insurance market has become more competitive, businesses now frequently change insurance companies to maximize the benefits for their employees. When this happens, employees receive new insurance cards, and if the current primary-care doctor does not participate with the new insurance company, employees have to find a new doctor. Unfortunately, this situation is common.
As many people have discovered, finding a new doctor requires overcoming several hurdles. If you have a new primary-care doctor, then you need to schedule a new-patient visit, but those are typically scheduled several months in the future. When you have an acute problem, obviously you can’t wait several months until after the new-patient visit — you need care now.
A very transient population characterizes places like Washington, DC, where people frequently move for new jobs and new opportunities. When you arrive in a new area, finding a new doctor isn’t always high on the priority list — until you get sick. Then once again, you are looking for a new doctor who can’t see you immediately.
2. They have a regular doctor, but he or she has no available same-day appointments, even for acute illness.
Primary-care doctors are in great demand now, and they fill their day with appointments to see as many patients as possible while in the office. In the past, doctors would leave space open on their schedule to accommodate sick visits. With the current state of health care, however, these free sick-visit spots are becoming scarce.
When you call a primary care doctor, the front desk staff assesses the doctor’s availability, and typically reports that the doctor has no spots available to see you today. The receptionist is then trained to refer you to an emergency department or to let you find care on your own.
3. Their health concern requires more care than what a doctor’s office can provide — such as procedures, X-rays, and on-site lab tests — but doesn’t need the full armamentarium of a hospital-based emergency department.
With technology playing such an important role in health care, medical treatment often requires X-rays or procedures such as laceration repairs and casting. Since technology is expensive and can only by justified if the doctor’s office uses it frequently, many physicians choose to refer elsewhere the patients who need technology rather than purchase it themselves.
The sites that have the technology are now limited to hospitals and specialists’ offices, which use it mainly to care for the own patients.
Here’s another solution: Simplicity Urgent Care
These responses not only intrigued me — they gave me an idea.
Because many of them said that they would rather go elsewhere because of the high expense and long wait times at emergency rooms, but few options were available that would fit their needs at that particular time, I decided the time was right to establish an urgent care center in Arlington, VA.
In early 2010, I joined forced with my friend and fellow ER doc Dr. John Maguire, the medical director for three of INOVA’s freestanding emergency rooms in Northern Virginia, where he oversees more than 75,000 patient visits annually.
And on November 22, we opened the doors of Simplicity Urgent Care (www.simplicityurgentcare.com), a new solution that we believe will satisfy the needs of our patients and referring physicians.
Keeping it simple
Dr. Maguire and I know that finding top-notch health care can be complicated, and the last thing patients want to do when they are sick is to navigate a complex structure. Actually, the same holds true when they are well.
That’s why we focus on making every visit efficient, and most importantly, simple.
Our center offers on-demand care with a lab, a room equipped for procedures previously only performed in the hospital emergency department, and a digital X-ray machine. At Simplicity Urgent Care, we believe it’s important to have this technology on-site because it allows us to better care for our patients and expand the scope of conditions we can treat.
And unlike many retail health-care clinics, a doctor sees every patient at Simplicity Urgent Care.
We know that life is busy, complicated, and stressful. At Simplicity Urgent Care, we don’t think health care should be. For details, visit our website: www.simplicityurgentcare.com.
About John Jones, MD, FACEP, FAAP
An emergency physician at INOVA Fair Oaks Hospital who is certified in both pediatric and adult emergency care, Dr. John Jones is a graduate of George Washington School of Medicine with an undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College.
He earned several departmental awards in research and medicine during his course of study. He completed his residency in emergency medicine at George Washington University, then began working at the Quincy Medical Center in Quincy, MA, where he taught residents and was also a clinical instructor at Boston University.
Dr. Jones then completed a two-year fellowship program at INOVA Fairfax Hospital for Children, and is now boarded by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Emergency Physicians — one of the few physicians in the country who is double boarded in both emergency medicine and pediatric emergency medicine.
Most recently, he worked as an emergency physician at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in Rockville, MD, in both the pediatric and adult emergency departments. He also taught residents and is a clinical instructor at Georgetown University. He maintains affiliations with several professional organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and The American College of Emergency Physicians. He is also active with the Urgent Care Association of America.
For more information, contact Dr. Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About John Maguire, MD, FACEP
In addition to being the owner and founder of Simplicity Urgent Care in Arlington, VA (www.simplicityurgentcare.com), Dr. John Maguire is the medical director for three of INOVA’s freestanding emergency rooms in Northern Virginia where he is responsible for clinical operations and other administrative duties, and annually oversees more than 75,000 patient visits.
Dr. Maguire has also served as operational medical director for the PHI Air Medical Group, AIR CARE, and helicopter transport services. A 1997 graduate of Georgetown University Medical School, Dr. Maguire graduated magna cum laude from Radford University with an undergraduate degree in Biology. He completed his residency in emergency medicine at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, PA, and he became board certified the following year, in 2001.
Dr. Maguire frequently lectures on medical topics, conducts peer reviews, and participates in research studies. His professional affiliations include American College of Emergency Physicians, American Academy of Emergency Medicine, Air Medical Physicians Association, National Association of EMS Physicians, the American Medical Association, and the Urgent Care Association of America.