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Be sure and watch for insights from UCAOA CEO Laurel Stoimenoff, PT, CHC. Each month, Laurel shares insights on our industry, activities affecting urgent care, and information on UCAOA advocacy efforts and other events.

 

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UCAOA Members: The Rising Tide

Posted By By Laurel Stoimenoff, PT, CHC, Wednesday, December 6, 2017

I recently attended the Northeast Regional Urgent Care Association’s (NERUCA) conference, a chapter of UCAOA, to meet and network with our mutual members and participate in its leadership education track.  Shaun Ginter, CEO of CareWell Urgent Care and a UCAOA director, presented “Creating a Culture of Service,” during which he shared personal experiences of what worked, what didn’t work in his organization, and how CareWell measures service success. Following his presentation, gratitude was expressed for Shaun’s complete transparency in the information shared with a group that included potential competitors.  John Kulin, DO, president of NERUCA, commented that too often urgent care centers are painted with the same brush and a patient experience is a reflection on all centers.  As an oft misunderstood industry, elevating that experience and openly sharing successes and failures is a necessity.  Dr. Kulin summarized his comments by stating, “A rising tide raises all ships.” 

A Gift from Our Members to Urgent Care

UCAOA members have a history of sharing and supporting one another.  As a result, urgent care medicine has gained greater credibility from the perspective of patients, payers, the medical community and employers.  Additionally, member support through dues, purchases, and conference and convention attendance has allowed UCAOA to do the work we do on your behalf.  We work diligently and thoughtfully to provide support to individual and organizational members.  But, we never forget what our members and vendors do for us through their support.  In the spirit of the season, it is truly a gift to passionately serve you and your centers.

Members Matter through Support And Volunteerism

UCAOA was able to achieve a myriad of accomplishments in 2017 – spanning industry advancement, education, outreach and growth – thanks to the support and volunteerism of our members. Here are some highlights from the past year:

Leadership & Advocacy
In May, UCAOA participated in a Day on the Hill, advocating on behalf of urgent care centers across the country. UCAOA also provided the resources and expertise to publish a state of the industry whitepaper, as well as the annual Benchmarking Report – which is arguably the most quoted resource on the industry.

Education
UCAOA’s Education Committee worked tirelessly to offer the most relevant educational experiences for urgent care physicians, advanced practice clinicians, operators and administrators. The College of Urgent Care Medicine (CUCM) advanced its strategic agenda, produced a clinical newsletter and expanded its influence by welcoming NPs and PAs into the College alongside the many esteemed physicians it already serves.

Support
The Urgent Care Foundation raised funds through the support of attendees at the Annual Foundation Celebration, as well as sponsored grants to provide research, including antibiotic stewardship. The funds also facilitated a scientific symposium on concussion care in the urgent care setting, convened a thought leaders’ forum on the future of urgent care and established a disaster relief fund to assist urgent care center recovery.

Expansion
UCAOA launched Pediatric, Telemedicine, and Hospital and Health System sections for members, with more of these special interest groups in planning stages. The California Urgent Care Association (CALUCA) joined UCAOA as a chapter – further expanding the organization’s reach and membership – and a consulting arm was created to better assist urgent care centers interested in pursuing accreditation. Looking ahead, the UCAOA Board drafted a three-year strategic plan for future growth.

UCAOA turned 13 in 2017, and while we have the energy and passion of a teenager, we could not do our work without the rising tide that is provided by our members and industry supporters.  Thank you to all who collectively “raise the ships” so they may continue to deliver high-value, quality care to patients everywhere. 





This article is also available in the December issue of JUCM

 

 

 

Tags:  Advocacy  ceo  certification  connectivity  health  membership  on-demand services  patient care  patient experience  quality of care  UCAOA  urgent care  urgent care center 

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Urgent Care Foundation Provides Care During Disasters

Posted By By Laurel Stoimenoff, PT, CHC, Wednesday, November 8, 2017

As demonstrated in the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, urgent care centers play a vital role in communities affected by natural disasters and other emergencies. Contributions to the Urgent Care Foundation’s Disaster Relief Fund support your dedicated colleagues who strive to keep their doors open and serve their patients in times of crisis.

There in Time of Need
When disaster strikes, healthcare organizations became focal points for outreach, care and distribution of resources as communities look to rebuild. After Hurricane Harvey ravaged southeast Texas and parts of Louisiana this summer, the Urgent Care Foundation reached out to centers in the region to offer help.

Tapping into the fund to subsidize local urgent care operations, the foundation helped coordinate a Weekend of Service as local urgent care centers worked to ensure the community had access to affordable healthcare in a time of intense need. Patient needs included routine care, treatment of flood-related illnesses and injuries and providing needed prescriptions to those who could not get back into their residences. For patients who were without health insurance or were simply unable to pay their portion of the claim, the urgent care centers provided free or discounted services throughout the weekend campaign. Some centers were able to provide immediate treatment, while others burdened with more damage kept their doors open to distribute resources such as food, water and information to the community – still playing a crucial role in relief efforts. Practice Velocity donated the resources from their marketing department to get the word out so patients could seek care from the many generous centers who offered to participate. 

Responding to the Call
UCAOA established the Urgent Care Foundation to enhance the role, purpose and awareness of urgent care medicine by inspiring and contributing to research, education, clinical and practice management leadership, as well as innovation in new and emerging healthcare delivery models.  Charity is also central to its mission.

In the fall of 2016, the foundation Trustees cited the need for a disaster fund following the devastating floods that hit Baton Rouge, Louisiana earlier that year.   Lake After Hours and Lake Urgent Care initiated a “We’re Here for You” campaign where a volunteer team of administrative, clinical and medical providers worked tirelessly to feed, treat and comfort displaced residents. Despite some of their locations experiencing significant flooding which also personally affected many employees and providers, the urgent care centers became of hub of support, informing residents on where to access care if they couldn’t provide it themselves and simply providing water, comfort and other necessities.

In contrast to other giving opportunities, the Urgent Care Foundation’s Disaster Relief Fund’s sole purpose is to ensure access to the affordable same-day care offered by urgent care centers.  We want to thank our past, present and future contributors.  The foundation aspires to more generously support our affected colleagues in future years when disaster strikes.  

The recent response of the urgent care community following this series of hurricanes reminds all of us at UCAOA why we are privileged to serve you.

To donate to the Disaster Relief Fund, please visit the Urgent Care Foundation’s website page.

 

This CEO Insight column is also published in the November issue of JUCM. 

 

Tags:  accessibility  ceo  health  healthcare  on-demand services  patient care  patient engagement  UCAOA  urgent care  urgent care center 

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Occupational Medicine Integration Boosts Urgent Care Sustainability and Growth

Posted By Laurel Stoimenoff, PT, CHC, Thursday, October 12, 2017

UCAOA currently identifies 7,639 urgent care centers in the U.S., up from just over 6,900 two years ago. This consistent growth, coupled with uncertainty about future payment models, has inspired many urgent care operators to explore, expand and diversify their product offerings to ensure a strong future. For many urgent care operators, a proven strategy has been the integration of occupational medicine (Occ Med). 

According to the National Academy of Social Insurance, injured workers’ medical benefits exceed $31 billion per year yet, according to UCAOA’s annual Benchmarking Report, it represents a small percentage of revenue for many centers. Astute employers seek cost-effective alternatives to the emergency department during those hours when their workforce is active.  Onsite radiology, lab and medical services augmented by a seven-day schedule render the urgent care center an attractive option for both workers and employers.  

While the synergies of acute primary care and Occ Med abound, there are nuances associated with caring for injured workers and the new customer in the room…the employer.  Urgent care operators must ensure that their administrative, communication and clinical processes address the triggers that ensure not only a positive patient outcome, but also a favorable employer experience.  As one employer once said to me despite a long history of providing care for their injured workers, “You’re only as good as the last one treated.”   This is a service line where relationships determine results and urgent care centers need to adjust their delivery model or, if multi-site, consider selecting several geographically appropriate occupational medicine centers of excellence.

Diversify Your Patient and Payer Base
Adding Occ Med services to an urgent care center opens the door to new patient populations in the community. While traditional urgent care patients often seek care near their home, injured workers tend to seek services close to work.  The addition of the service automatically taps into a new, non-resident population.  While urgent care centers are prepared for illness and injury, illness tends to dominate unless an injured worker strategy is successfully pursued.  

Additionally, increasing overall reimbursement per visit can be accomplished through a more favorable payor distribution.  The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) reported that of the 42 states with industrial fee schedules, only two states reimbursed some services less than Medicare, while most compensated providers an average of 130% of the Medicare fee schedule.  Imagine favorable fee schedules with no patient responsibility toward payment.

Viability
The ever-changing healthcare landscape continues to put pressure on providers to secure strong reimbursement contracts with payers and strengthen the bottom line. When urgent care expands to include Occ Med services, new channels of revenue become available through stable partnerships with community employers and expanded patient populations. While employer satisfaction is essential, they know that management of a work-related injury becomes a team sport, and a favorable patient experience is more likely to result a positive clinical (and financial) outcome. A positive work-related injury experience in the urgent care center should translate to future traffic if it’s done right.   Additionally, injured workers often require follow-up care so while the cost of patient acquisition may be higher, it is more than offset by the revenue associated with the injury care.

Sustainability
Integrating Occ Med services allows urgent care centers to remain resilient to industry changes that may arise in the future. Offering a variety of on-demand services empowers urgent care centers to keep pace with the demand for convenient, patient-focused healthcare options. Patients and employers share a common need when the unexpected occurs…ready access to affordable, quality, one-stop healthcare.

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Join us at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, California for UCAOA’s Fall Conference where industry experts will present both clinical and practice management tracks focused on occupational medicine and employer services. The conference takes place October 26-28. For more information on this and other session topics, please visit the conference website: ucaoa.org/2017Fall

Tags:  ceo  health  occupational healthquality of care  on-demand services  patient care  urgent care 

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UCAOA Representatives Take to the Hill to Meet with Congressional Offices

Posted By Camille S. Bonta, MHS, Thursday, July 13, 2017

Members of the Urgent Care Association of America (UCAOA) turned citizen advocates on May 3 as they traveled to Capitol Hill to educate lawmakers and their staff about the important role of urgent care in the health care continuum.

 

The “day on the Hill” coincided with UCAOA’s Urgent Care Convention & Expo and included the participation of 15 UCAOA representatives who met with 75 congressional offices, including with staff on committees with jurisdiction over Medicaid and veteran’s health care.

 

Beyond providing lawmakers and their staff a basic education of urgent care centers, UCAOA members solicited the support for soon-to-be-introduced legislation that would require the Veteran’s Administration to cover healthcare services provided to veterans in urgent care centers. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) will lead introduction of the legislation in the Senate, and the introduction of bipartisan companion legislation in the House is expected.

 

Similar to the enactment of federal legislation in 2016 that requires TRICARE — the health insurance program for uniformed service members, retirees and their families to cover urgent care visits without prior authorization, legislation to improve veterans’ access to urgent care centers is important to UCAOA’s broader efforts to educate payers about urgent care’s value proposition.

 

UCAOA representatives were on the Hill the day before the House of Representatives passed the GOP American Health Care Act. It is unclear the extent to which Republicans will ultimately be successful at dismantling Obamacare this year.  No doubt, however, that states will seek greater flexibility with their Medicaid programs. 

 

Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia have expanded Medicaid. These states are very nervous because in almost each one of the expansion states, enrollment projections are higher than expected, which is putting a squeeze on state budgets.  Urgent care centers have the capacity to meet the nonemergency medical care needs of the Medicaid population at a fraction of what it costs to care for these patients in hospital emergency departments.  Yet, in many states, Medicaid rates for urgent care services are insufficient.  Because urgent care centers cannot provide healthcare services to Medicaid patients at a financial loss, states cannot establish a healthcare delivery infrastructure that encourages and supports lower costs sites of service for this population of patients until Medicaid rates are improved.

 

Improving Medicaid rates so they are on par with Medicare was another request to lawmakers. While budgetary considerations, including the failure of the Office of Management and Budget to conduct dynamic scoring that would count savings from shifting care out of the hospital emergency department into urgent care centers, make achieving Medicaid payment parity difficult, key congressional staff, during their meetings with UCAOA representatives, seemed genuinely interested in policy barriers urgent care centers face in caring for this patient population.

 

UCAOA’s “day on the Hill” constitutes just one component of the organization’s overall advocacy efforts, but an important component that UCAOA hopes to replicate and grow in the future.  A 2015 survey of congressional staff found that 94 percent note that “in-person visits from constituents” have some or a lot of influence on an undecided lawmaker a finding that has been consistent for more than a decade according to a report released this year by the Congressional Management Foundation.[1]

 

The survey also found that in-person meetings in which legislators and staff have opportunities to interact and develop relationships with constituents are very important for understanding constituents views, and that constituents meeting or getting to know legislative assistants

and district and state directors is a good way to build those relationships.

 

Contrary to what many UCAOA members may believe, they can use their voices to make a difference on policy issues important to the urgent care industry. UCAOA hopes its members will engage in advocacy efforts when called upon and, in the meantime, will use UCAOA resources made available to them to communicate and build relationships with their state and federal lawmakers, as well as with representatives of the payer community. 

 

To learn more about UCAOA’s advocacy activities, visit  ucaoa.org and look for “advocacy" in the menu bar.

Camille Bonta is the founder and principal of Summit Health Care Consulting in Breckenridge, CO focused on the lobbying, regulatory and advocacy efforts of national healthcare organizations, including UCAOA. 

 

 

 

 



[1] Citizen-Centric Advocacy: The Untapped Power of Constituent Engagement ∙ © Congressional Management Foundation CongressFoundation.org

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Tags:  Advocacy  AHCA  health  healthcare  payer  UCAOA  urgent care  veterans 

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