Urgent Care centers all across the country have experienced rapid growth over the past year, and this growth trend is expected to continue for years to come. According to a benchmarking survey report done by the Urgent Care Association of America (UCAOA), the urgent care industry continues to grow as a result of the primary care physician shortage and the addition of the newly insured individuals as a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In addition, more than 80 percent of urgent care centers increased their number of patient visits from 2011 to 2013, according to the UCAOA survey.
Although there is substantial growth in the number of urgent care facilities around the country, there is still a considerable shortage in the number of healthcare professionals to staff these centers.
According to Jeff Waddill, Division Vice President of Staff Care, “Throughout healthcare, we will need about 15,000 additional primary care doctors just to meet the volume of newly insured through the Affordable Care Act that is projected to cover 30 million patients by 2019.” The most acute shortages are in family practice and internal medicine, which also are the types of physicians in most need at urgent care facilities.
With the increase of patient visits, averaging between 31 and 40 patients per day, urgent care facilities have an increased demand to staff additional physicians, advanced practice clinicians, and support staff. As a result, recruitment of quality physicians and medical providers has been a priority for urgent care centers, with over 53 percent indicating they have an internal resource responsible for recruitment, according to the UCAOA survey. In addition, locum tenens has become an increasingly popular source of staffing for urgent care centers, with nearly 17 percent of these facilities using locum tenens healthcare professionals.
Utilizing temporary physicians and advanced practitioners also can help to alleviate the healthcare professional shortage in urgent care facilities, and improve healthcare delivery.
“The need for staff planning can quickly become evident in a fast-growth environment such as urgent care,” Waddill said. “Early signs of trouble from rapid growth include difficulties in filling shift schedules and staff burnout,” he said, adding, “A staff plan that considers temporary and permanent clinicians can avoid such problems while containing costs, improving employee and patient satisfaction and decreasing adverse events.”
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