August 16, 2022
1 min read
Author reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.
Patient-initiated urgent care center visits for low acuity, cervical spine trauma were linked with reduced ED referrals, as well as imaging and health care costs, according to published results.
“From a systemic standpoint, leaders should see [urgent care centers] UCCs as a potential tool to help relieve stress on overburdened EDs by providing an alternative access route to appropriate care,” Marc D. Succi, MD, told Healio. “The clear next step is to further characterize what level of acuity can be appropriately treated at UCCs, as well as what types of complaints. Obviously, there is an inflection point where caring for overly complex patients at UCCs will require some percent of excess referral to EDs. This would reduce the utility of UCCs,” Succi added.
Succi and colleagues performed a retrospective study that analyzed data from 143 self-selected, low acuity patients who received X-rays at a UCC and had an indication of cervical spine trauma from May 1, 2021, to Aug. 31, 2021.
Marc D. Succi
Researchers cross-referenced medical records to identify patients who received imaging at both a UCC and ED within 24 hours and within 7 days. To model cost savings, patients who presented to the ED in the absence of a UCC visit were assumed to have received a cervical spine CT scan without contrast.
Among the 143 patients who received imaging at a UCC, two patients (1.4%) required referral to an ED within 7 days. Using the average total costs of an UCC visit vs. an ED visit, Succi and colleagues estimated UCC visits result in a savings of $437,928 during the course of a year and $11,088.74 per year in work relative value units.