The need for urgent care in the current health care system is irresistible. Various reasons have been cited to be the cause of increased demand for urgent care centers including crowded hospital emergency departments, insufficient clinicians to provide primary care as well as the rising health care cost.
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Most importantly, the inefficiencies and long queues in hospital emergency departments have been the main drivers for increased consumer demand for urgent care centers.
Essentially, urgent care units have been perceived by the populace as critical in improving accessibility to immediate medical services at affordable costs. In fact, urgent care centers make available walk-in care for simple ailments due to minor infections and injuries that need immediate attention.
However, urgent care centers do not necessarily deal with complex emergency cases. In most cases, urgent care centers offer treatments and care ranging from simple injuries and illnesses to most complex treatments including blood transfusion and X-rays though not life threatening.
Actually, urgent care centers are not equipped to handle life threatening emergency cases.
The current health care system in US is struggling with the problem of over stretched hospital emergency department capacity, limited clinicians to provide primary care as well as constant increase in health care cost (Petterson, 2012).
As such, urgent care centers have come out as an option to the increasing health problems that need immediate attention. Essentially, urgent care units have been perceived by the populace as critical in improving accessibility to immediate medical services at affordable costs (Landen, 2013).
Besides, the growth in urgent care centers in the recent past indicates the consumer increased demand for immediate medical services.
In fact, urgent care centers offer medical services for minor illnesses and injuries that need pressing consideration. However, the centers are not fully equipped to handle complicated emergencies.
Studies indicate mixed data on the impact of urgent care centers on health care. However, the rising optimism among the health professionals and the public indicate positive effects in terms of costs and accessibility to medical services (Fields & Dorren, 2013).
In most cases, urgent care centers have contributed to reduced visits and long queues in hospital emergency departments. Other studies directly link urgent care centers to increased accessibility and reduced health care costs. Moreover, most studies indicate that the growth of urgent care centers is driven by consumer demand.
While the growth in urgent care centers is seen as disruptive to the health care coordination in some quarters, proponents argue that the concerns may be overstated given the fact that urgent care centers put much emphasis on intervallic and uncomplicated health conditions instead of chronic and multifaceted cases (Japsen, 2013).
The future growth potential of urgent care centers is bright given the expansion of heath care coverage under the health care reforms. The expansion of health coverage would lead to increased pressure on both primary and emergency care living room for the growth and expansion of urgent care centers.
Background of the Study
The popularity of urgent care centers cannot be ignored due to their simplicity in people management and range of services they offer to patients. According to Urgent Care Association of America (UCAOA), over three million Americans are visiting the urgent care centers weekly.
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Moreover, urgent care centers are offering treatments and care ranging from simple injuries and illnesses to most complex treatments that do not need complicated equipments (McQueen, 2011).
However, urgent care centers are not provided with complicated equipments to handle severe cases including multifaceted surgeries. Essentially, urgent care centers do not have appropriate equipments to offer multifaceted medical services.
The increasing numbers of urgent care centers correspond to rising demand for efficiency in offering emergency services. Health data indicate that urgent care centers have increased by over twenty percent since the year 2008.
The reasons for rapid growth and development of urgent care centers range from efficiency in services delivery to reduced costs. Generally, most of the clients visit urgent cares centers to avoid long queues, which normally characterize emergency rooms in major hospitals and care providers (Weinick, Burns & Mehrotra, 2014).
Besides, the growth of urgent care centers is expected to continue given the expected expansion of health coverage (Betancourt & Weinick, 2007).
Essentially, the cause and effects of urgent care centers on health care provision has been sparingly understood. Moreover, the appropriate promotional strategies that lead to increased patients in urgent care units need to be determined. The need for more information on urgent care centers necessitates the study.
Even though urgent care centers are increasingly becoming popular, most of the specialists in the field tend to be worry of their increasing attractiveness. In particular, physicians argue that the increasing trend in growth of urgent care centers may cause deficiency in the coordination of health care provision (Turner, 2013). However, proponents argue that the concerns may be overstated given the fact that urgent care centers put much emphasis on intervallic and uncomplicated health conditions instead of chronic and multifaceted cases.
The need for urgent care centers are continuously increasing given the problems current health care system in US is facing.
In fact, current health care system is struggling with the problem of over stretched hospital emergency department capacity, inadequate health professionals as well as steady rise in health care cost (Yee, Lechner & Boukus, 2013).
Moreover, most of the consumers are struggling with cost constraints and inefficiencies in major emergency departments. As such, urgent care centers have come out as an option to the increasing health problems that need instantaneous awareness.
In other words, consumers have perceived urgent care units as alternative to improved accessibility to affordable immediate medical services. Besides, the growth in urgent care centers in the recent past indicates the consumer increased demand for immediate medical services.
As indicated, urgent care centers provide walk-in care for ailments and accidents that need immediate attention though not necessarily complex injuries (Lowes, 2013).
Besides, given the expansion of heath care coverage under the health care reforms, the need for urgent care centers will increase tremendously as major hospitals emergency departments will be more crowded (Fields & Dorren, 2013).
In other words, the expansion of health coverage would lead to increased pressure on both primary and emergency care. As such, urgent care centers will be needed to provide for excess capacity.
Purpose of the Study
The major aim of the study is to determine factors that contribute to the growth of urgent care centers. In other words, the main purpose of the study is to determine variables that result in increased growth in demand for urgent care centers particularly within the five boroughs of New York.
Specifically, the study tends to determine whether efficiency in services delivery and reduced costs are major determinants in the increased growth and expansion of urgent care centers.
Broadly, the study tends to understand factors that contribute to the expansion of urgent care centers as well as the manner in which urgent care centers operate.
Even though the major aim of the study is to determine factors that contribute to the growth and expansion of urgent care centers, the specific objectives of the study include
- To determine the number of patients visiting urgent care centers as well as physician to patients ratio
- To determine whether having many locations help in building urgent care center’s population growth
- To determine whether having a short wait time is a positive or negative aspect in urgent care center’s services provision
- To determine the results of City MD urgent care center in Manhattan, New York
- To determine whether having the motto “patient first” can hinder employees’ ability to serve each patient
- To determine the types of promotions that would cause increased growth of urgent care centers
- To determine employees’ reactions to fast growing City MD urgent care centers
Upon completion of the study, the following questions will be answered
- How many patients report to urgent care centers and what is the physician to patient ratio?
- How does having many locations help in building the urgent care’s population growth?
- Can having a short wait time be a positive or negative aspect in patients’ services delivery at urgent care centers?
- What results have been seen since the opening of City MD urgent care center in Manhattan, New York?
- Is having the motto “patient first” hinder employees ability to serve each patient?
- What different kinds of promotions allow the potential growth of urgent care centers?
- What are the reactions of employees to fast growing City MD urgent care centers?
Significance of the Study
The study will be critical in understanding the dynamics and processes involved in the operations of urgent care centers. Moreover, the study will be useful in providing information on urgent care centers and the manner in which they differ from private practices and hospitals as well as emergency departments.
Most importantly, the study will be useful in understanding the effectiveness of urgent care centers in terms of services delivery and costs. Besides, the study will provide insights on how urgent care centers works particularly through the application of business ideas.
In addition, the study conclusion and recommendations will provide guidelines to the urgent care practitioners on how to improve their effectiveness in services delivery. In other words, the study findings will enable practitioners to implement urgent care effectively by preparing a framework for the strategy.
As such, this research will assist organizations that operate urgent care centers particularly City MD to understand the manner in which urgent care centers operates and their importance in order to improve the clients’ satisfaction.
The research scope is limited to few selected participants or small sample size to make the results have reliable and valid conclusions. In addition, the study is limited to only one institution in which urgent care centers have been adopted.
In other words, urgent care centers both private and institutional based need to be studied in order to come up with valid and reliable conclusion.
As such, the study findings cannot suitably be adopted in cross-industrial applications due to this limitation. Besides, there are limitations in terms of finances, time, research materials and the study expatriates particularly where interviews techniques will be applied.
The Growth and Expansion of Urgent Care Centers
Urgent care centers have proliferated and grown considerably in the last two decades.
The rapid growth and development of the urgent care centers has been attributed to the inefficiencies in the primary care deliveries, crowded emergency departments and the need to for increased accessibility to immediate medical attention (Betancourt & Weinick, 2007).
Essentially, urgent care centers provide medical services based on walk-ins. Besides offering the medical services during the regular business hours, urgent care units offer their services during weekend and evenings (Betancourt & Weinick, 2007).
In most cases, urgent care centers offer medical services usually provided by primary care units ranging from flu to minor ear or eye infections. Contrary to hospital emergency departments, urgent care units are not fully equipped to deal with complex medical services situations.
In terms of staffing, physicians with professional backgrounds in emergency medicine or primary care manage urgent care centers (Galewitz, 2012).
Though urgent care centers emerged in early eighties, most of the practitioners lacked clear marketing strategy to attract the interest of consumers. However, demands for urgent care units have been increasing consistently as the need for increased accessibility and efficiency in emergency medical services increases (Japsen, 2013).
Current studies linking primary care physicians and health care services delivery indicate deteriorating provision of health services particularly during the extended hours. The void is filled by urgent care centers prompting their rapid growth in the recent past (Landen, 2013).
Before, urgent care centers were being managed and owned by independent private entities. However, increased growth and expansion of urgent care centers have led to large units being managed by big hospitals and chain of entities (Japsen, 2013).
Moreover, hospital systems are expanding in urgent care systems to increase their services offerings. Besides, insurers have also embraced the low cost systems of urgent care centers thereby shifting some of the medical care from emergency departments to urgent care centers.
Essentially, insurers believe that urgent care centers cost less compared with emergency care departments (Weinick et al., 2014).
Factors Influencing Location and Ownership of Urgent Care Centers
Market dynamics is one of the major factors influencing the ownership and location of urgent care centers (O’Malley, 2013). Urgent care centers are likely to be located in populous areas particularly in metropolis with the presence of vehicles and human traffic.
Besides, urgent care centers are also likely to be located in affluent environments particularly in sub-urban with large employed populace and employer-sponsored health coverage (Weinick et al., 2014).
The reason for targeting large population is that urgent care centers are volume-driven model. In other words, urgent care centers need sufficient population to breakeven.
According to the Urgent Care Association of America (UCAOA), urgent care units whether independently owned or affiliated with hospitals are often found within the urban or suburban areas.
The presence of urgent care units in these areas mirrors the greater need of health care delivery systems in these markets (McQueen, 2011).
Factors Influencing the Growth of Urgent Care Centers
The increasing numbers of urgent care centers corresponds to rising demand for services they offer. Health data indicate that urgent care centers have increased by over twenty percent since the year 2008.
The reason for rapid growth and development of urgent care centers include increased efficiency in services delivery as well as reduced costs. Most clients visit urgent cares centers to avoid long queues, which normally characterize emergency rooms in major hospitals and care providers (Weinick et al., 2014).
Another factor contributing to the growth of the urgent care centers include the ready funding particularly from the equity borrowers (Eng, 1997). Besides, the growth of urgent care centers is expected to continue in the next two years due expanded health coverage due to the implementation of affordable care act.
The implementation of the act will enable health services be affordable to million Americans. Studies indicate majority of Americans have no regular doctors. As such, they opt for urgent care centers for immediate attention for simple ailments (Betancourt & Weinick, 2007).
The growth opportunities for urgent care centers have attracted funding particularly from equity borrowers that tend to be privy of risk taking (Eng, 1997).
Essentially, affordability is one of the major factors that contribute to increased growth of urgent care centers. While prices might seem to be the same with hospitals emergency rooms, a visit to urgent care centers may save the patient two times less compared to visiting hospital emergency rooms (Mehrotra, 2009).
Studies indicate that twenty percent of medical cases in hospital emergency rooms can be treated in urgent care centers. The effect in terms of cost saving is huge. In other words, treatments in urgent care centers would result in an estimated savings of over $4 billion annually.
The low-cost strategy has prompted insurance providers to opt for urgent care centers in their provider networks. Moreover, most of the hospitals have added urgent care centers in their services due to increased consumer demand.
Besides cost, the selling efficiency is another factor. In fact, most of the patients prefer efficient and affordable services. Efficient offering of services is a critical success factor in urgent care centers (Mehrotra, 2009). In fact, saving time is critical selling point in urgent care centers.
For instance, in most of the urgent care centers admission and discharge within an hour remain a priority goal. In addition, patient waiting monitoring systems in urgent care centers ensure that patient does not take more than an hour in the waiting room.
Research Methodology and Design
The research study will be qualitative conducted to establish factors that contribute to the rapid growth of urgent care centers. The data will be collected from both primary and secondary sources. In other words, the study will utilize secondary data sources such as related journal articles from electronic database and library.
However, the study will basically utilize primary data collected through interviews and surveys. The empirical data will be collected through the application of specified number of participants.
In addition, the number of participants will be limited to 10 respondents that will be chosen through simple random sampling procedures.
Design and Statistical Procedures
As indicated, the study will primarily utilize the qualitative methods of data collection majorly surveys and interviews. The methods of data collection are chosen due to their effectiveness of reaching out to the respondents and the quality of the obtained data (Bazeley, 2002).
Moreover, the data will be gathered from respondents selected through random sampling procedures. Besides, in terms of data analysis, integrated statistical analysis tools including Microsoft office applications and statistical software will be applied (Patton, 2002).
The analyzed data will be presented through the application of line graphs, tables as well as statistical bar charts. Further, the methods of data collection are chosen due to the reliability and validity of the obtained results (Bazeley, 2002).
On the other hand, the study will utilize secondary data sources such as related journal articles from electronic database and library. The secondary information will be subjected to content analysis in order to provide an insight on the study subject.
The study focuses on the contributing factors to the rapid growth of urgent care centers. Therefore, doctors working in urgent care centers, physicians and City MD urgent care center employees as well as patients are deemed viable for the study.
However, only a small number of participants including five patients and five employees or staff will be selected through random sampling procedures (Trochim, 2006). In addition, other personal attributes including gender, age, experience and academic qualifications will also be taken into consideration.
From the total number of patients and staff that may be sampled, just 10 participants from City MD will be selected via a technique dubbed as convenience simple random sampling strategy (Trochim, 2006). The interviews as well as a survey will be conducted to help in addressing the formulated research questions.
Data Collection Procedures
As one of the most important studies in health care system, the information will be collected through administering properly designed survey questionnaires as well as conducting well-structured in-depth interviews to unbiased selected participants (Patton, 2002).
The soundly designed survey and interview questionnaires will be administered to 10 participants constituting five patients and five employees. Each part of the questionnaires will constitute key items that suitably attend to the research questions.
In addition, data collected through secondary sources will provide insight on the dynamics and operations of the urgent care centers. In other words, the study will utilize secondary data sources such as related journal articles from electronic database and library that will provide an insight on the study topic.
Proposed Data Analysis
To obtain the best correlation approximation values, the study quantitative data analysis will be carried out by utilizing the integrated Statistical Analysis Tool (WISAT).
The quantitative data, which form the bulk of information, will be analyzed through the application of various techniques including statistical analytical software such as the SPSS to come up with measures such as percentages, frequency distribution and deviations to help in the understanding of the type of correlation between the variables (Patton, 2002).
The techniques will be used to determine the research respondents’ proportions that chose various responses. The method will be applied for each group of items available in the questionnaire that ideally corresponds to the formulated research question and objectives.
Line graphs, tables as well as statistical bar charts will be used to make sure that quantitative data analysis is simply comprehensible. Besides, the secondary data will be subjected to content analysis in order to provide an insight on the subject of study.
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