What We're Reading: Urgent Care Used as a Bridge Between Primary Care and ER

What we're reading, March 7, 2016: urgent care is being used as a bridge between the primary care doctor's office and the emergency room; a task force calls for physicians to employ team-based care; and the government will meet to craft a plan for the Zika virus.

Even Americans who have a regular primary care doctor are seeking treatment at urgent care centers, according to NPR. Urgent care centers are being used as a bridge between the primary care doctor’s office and the emergency room for problems that are serious enough to be seen the same day, but are not life-threatening, such as heart attack or major trauma. There are more than 7000 urgent care centers across the country, most of which are open in the evenings, on the weekends and holidays, and can cost around $150 for a visit instead of more than $1000 for a visit to the emergency room.

A task force led by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is recommending that physicians employ team-based models of care. Healio reported that the task force report claimed team-based care improves patient experiences and population health while lowering per capita costs. The task force represents 10 medical professional organizations and has the endorsement of 19 professional organizations. In addition, coupling team-based care with tools like telehealth and virtual teams improves access to care and reduces health disparities.

At a summit next month, the White House, the CDC, and state and local officials will craft a plan to combat the Zika virus. Current infections reported in the US are the result of travel to Zika infected countries in Central America, but federal health officials expect the first locally transmitted cases of the virus in the continental US to occur by June or July, reported Reuters. The CDC expects small pockets of Zika outbreaks in some southern states, but that the risk of infection will be mitigated through the use of air conditioning, window screens, and regular garbage collection.

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