In recent years, urgent care and convenient care clinics have been popping up all over Chicago. These facilities have been a more convenient way to get the immediate healthcare you need. For example, if you’re dealing with an awful cough or a bad rash and your primary care physician can’t see you right away, urgent care and convenient care clinics have immediate, walk-in appointments available for you seven days a week.
But why the sudden growth of these clinics across the Chicagoland area? What is impacting the growth of urgent care and convenient care clinics? Dr. Rahul Khare, former emergency physician and founder and president of Innovative Express Care, a new urgent care clinic in the city’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, talked to Brandi Walker about the trend of these clinics, how healthcare reform has a played a role in their growth and the future of these convenient clinics.
Why has there been a trend in urgent care and convenient care clinics?
I think there are a lot of reasons for the increase in urgent cares. First, I believe insurances are charging higher co-pays for ER visits, sometimes $150 or more. This is how health insurances deter visits to high-cost care areas of ERs and hospitals. Many people then try to get into their primary care physician’s office (if they have one), and when it will be more than 2 or 3 days, they instead come to an urgent care for the convenience. Here at Innovative Express Care, our urgent care located in Lincoln Park, we are seeing many young 22-45 year olds who do not see a physician on a regular basis, and come in for minor illnesses such as cough, sore throat, urinary symptoms, or pink eye. These symptoms are easily treatable, and honestly, people don’t want to wait 2 or 3 days to get into see their primary care physician.
How has healthcare reform played a role in the growth of these clinics?
Healthcare reform has certainly increased healthcare coverage, and for this reason it has recently increased the amount of patients we see. We often see young adults who are under their parents’ insurance. This is great for them, as three years ago many of this patient population did not have health insurance. Now these patients can visit clinics like Innovative Express Care to get their minor healthcare needs filled.
How will this growth of clinics impact the healthcare industry? impact the Chicago area?
There has been a recent surge in urgent care clinics opening up, especially on the north side of Chicago. We are unsure of what exactly the impact will be on the health industry. There are so many moving parts: increase in health coverage due to the Affordable Care Act, economy starting to get better, more financial penalties for patients going to the ER instead of their primary care or urgent care, and a shortage of primary care physicians. With all of these factors, urgent cares will certainly continue to have an abundance of patients to treat.
What is the future of these urgent care clinics?
The impact of having so many urgent cares is something to be determined. Obviously, there will be a saturation point, where there will not be enough patients to sustain the business. When this occurs, only those that give great healthcare, have a special niche, and are deemed trustworthy will survive. Nobody wants to go to an urgent care who treats them like a number. At Innovative Express Care, we have the ability of give IV fluids, observe patients, do x-rays, give patients their medication on the spot due to our in-house pharmacy, and even do primary care. We strive to be different. From the moment you walk into our clinic, you’ll see that we are unique. We have a spa-like atmosphere, free coffee, juice, and snacks. We are changing the way healthcare is delivered.
For more information on Dr. Khare and Innovative Express Care, visit http://www.Innovativeexpresscare.com.