Urgent Care Clinics Booming in Difficult Healthcare Market

The economic downturn, looming entitlement reforms and potential budget cuts in the United States at the federal and state level are allowing the growth of urgent care clinics, otherwise known as immediate care clinics, to substantially increase. This is considered to be a remedy to fill in the growing doctor shortage.

According to industry reports and spending by large healthcare operators, the number of urgent care clinics is projected to soar within the next decade. It is estimated that more than 8,000 urgent care clinics have been established – other numbers show 9,000 – and the Urgent Care Association of America reports eight to 10 percent annual growth.

Urgent care facilities are different than traditional hospitals and are rather similar to the health clinics found in places like Walmart and Walgreen because they are usually open on evenings and weekends and treat common health issues – some immediate care clinics do offer additional services like X-rays for broken bones.

Some medical professionals like to consider their urgent care clinics as after-hours doctors’ offices. Most of those who work in such an office do note, however, patients may not get to see a board-certified doctor or another kind of specialist.

A large percentage of walk-in clinics and urgent care offices are managed and operated by non-profit health systems, which receive donations and contributions in order to pay for construction and renovation costs, patient care program support, general operations costs and equipment purchases, according to the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy’s (AHP) annual Report on Giving study.

With so many of these operations setting up in malls, main streets and in major metropolitan cities, can the non-profit sector even pay for them? Well, Reuters is reporting that private equity firms have been investing money into urgent care clinics over the past few years. Although there is a tremendous risk in investing in these clinics because of the possibility of oversaturation and low insurance reimbursements, these firms work one-on-one with clinics to provide quality and to make profit.

Rand Health found that retailers are entering the healthcare marketplace too. Big box stores, such as Target and Walmart, only had a few of these clinics in the year 2000, but today there are more than 1,200.

“Retail clinics emphasize convenience, with extended weekend and evening hours, no appointments, and short wait times,” the organization states in its report. “More than 44 percent of retail clinic visits take place when physician offices are typically closed. Price transparency and low costs may also be particularly attractive for people without insurance.”

This is surely part of the profit-motive for these corporations.

Regardless of the concerns one may have over the private sector getting involved in such an industry, urgent care clinics are part of the nation’s future healthcare market, especially since President Obama’s Affordable Care Act is now law of the land and will add a burden to the system.

“Many factors could influence the future of retail clinics in the U.S. First, the growing body of evidence casting doubt on quality-of-care concerns could lead to greater acceptance and use of retail clinics,” Rand added.

“Full implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) could also lead to continued retail clinic growth. With more people insured and an increased demand for primary care under the ACA, access to primary care physicians could decrease. This may lead to increased demand for retail clinics. Similarly, if wait times for physician appointments increase-as has been the case in Massachusetts following its health reform-this could also increase retail clinic demand.”

Despite the concerns that some may have about private investment possibly cutting costs to increase its bottom line, urgent care clinics must offer remedies to health issues otherwise the consumer will go elsewhere to receive proper medical attention.

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Quality Healthcare Clinics Offer a Variety of Treatments

Many cosmetic and healthcare clinics offer a wide variety of procedures to their patients. These can range from spa treatments right through to major medical treatments.

This means that a client can visit one clinic for a choice of procedures, making it their one stop destination for treatments including skin care, dental care and eye care.

These private health clinics are popular because the patients can get to know their surgeon and the other staff over a period of time, as they undergo a range of treatments. The patient can feel that they are in safe hands for all their medical and cosmetic needs.

There are many private medical clinics around the world that offer a fantastic variety of treatments to patients. In countries where there is no government health scheme, it is particularly important that there are quality private healthcare clinics.

This enables people to get the essential health treatments they need. A typical range of health care offered at private clinics includes dentistry, ophthalmology and cardiology.

Specific treatments include laser surgery for the eyes, a common treatment these days, as well as procedures to treat diseases of the eyes.

Dental care can also be carried out at healthcare clinics. Orthodontic and dental treatments offered can include aesthetic restoration, implants and the treatment of gum disease.

People with serious heart-related health problems can also turn to healthcare clinics for cardiology procedures.

Types of cosmetic treatment offered include all types of skincare and dermatology, from laser surgery to remove skin imperfections and unwanted hair to cellulite treatment.

Cosmetic dermatology also includes beauty enhancement procedures such as collagen implants, botox, microdermabrasion and chemical peels.

So there is usually a wide range of procedures available at healthcare clinics. They are also welcoming and relaxing environments, enabling the patients to relax before and after their procedure.

Some treatment clinics also offer spa treatments as well as health procedures. These include all types of therapeutic massage as well as beauty treatments. The spa is a relaxing environment in which to take time out from life and really relax.

All healthcare clinics should employ qualified surgeons, so it is worth checking the experience and qualifications of the surgeons on the clinic’s website before deciding to proceed with a particular treatment.

After the first step of browsing the clinic’s website, it is often best to call to discuss your medical or cosmetic needs with the clinic. They will then arrange an appointment for you to go in and talk through your procedure, ensuring you understand what it involves and are prepared before you go ahead.

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Diet And Massage During Your Stay At A Health Clinic

It is not uncommon for a person at a health clinic to begin by spending two or three days fasting, or semi-fasting. On a fast, you are allowed only water and lemon juice; on a semi-fast, you are also allowed fruit.

Many people experience unpleasant side effects during a fast, such as headaches, feelings of weakness and dizziness, and slight nausea. These feelings do no lasting harm and usually disappear after 48 hours.

After fasting, you usually follow a gentle diet of fresh, simple foods, such as fruit, vegetables, honey, yoghurt, wheat germ, and small amounts of lean meat, chicken or fish. A lot of health farms grow their own organic vegetables.

No diet is compulsory and you can eat other things, as long as they are available at the health farm. Some people, after all, need to gain not lose weight, and their needs are taken into consideration.

Refined or processed foods are off the menu.

A TYPICAL DIET FOR THE FIRST THREE DAYS

DAY 1

Breakfast

Hot water and lemon, lightly stewed fruit, Yoghurt with Bran and Honey,

Lunch

Home-made vegetable soup, fresh fruit, hot water and lemon,

Dinner

Fresh fruit, Yoghurt, Wheat germ, Honey, hot water and lemon

DAY 2

Breakfast

Hot water and lemon, fresh fruit, Yoghurt, Bran, Honey,

Lunch

Fresh salad, lightly stewed fruit, Yoghurt, Wheat germ, Honey, hot water and lemon

Dinner

Home-made vegetable soup, fresh fruit, Yoghurt, Wheat germ, Honey, hot water and lemon

DAY 3

Breakfast

Hot wafer and lemon, lightly stewed fruit Yoghurt, Bran, Honey

Lunch

Home-made vegetable soup, baked potato & knob of butter, fresh fruit, hot water and lemon

Dinner

Grilled lean meat, chicken or fish, lightly cooked fresh vegetables, lightly stewed fruit, Yoghurt, Wheat germ, Honey.

Massage

Most health farms include massage as an essential part of their treatment program. It is especially recommended for releasing tension particularly valuable if you are prone to stress stimulating the circulation and encouraging the elimination of toxins through the skin.

There are various methods of massage that may be on offer during your stay at a health farm. These include:

A Jacuzzi is a strong, deep type of massage taken in a special bath, during which the body is bombarded with jets of water. Specially recommended for those with arthritis and rheumatism.

A Neuromuscular massage is a deep fingertip massage, aimed at specific motor points of the muscles, to relieve muscular tension.

Shiatsu is similar to neuromuscular massage, except that pressure is applied to points running along energy channels, or meridians, rather than to muscles. The aim of the Shiatsu massage is to restore the flow of energy along the meridians.

Swedish massage consists of forceful, heavy stroking, slapping and beating movements over the large muscle masses of the legs and back. It works well to relieve tension and stimulate the circulation.

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How to Choose a Mental Health Clinic

The process of choosing a mental health clinic begins by first identifying which kind of clinic you wish to opt for. There are various options of clinics to choose from such as – a mental health clinic that only caters to outpatients and is run by a privately owned organization or clinics which offer inpatient facility or a day patient facility, most of which are usually run by the government or the clinics run by health services or communities. Depending on what exactly are your needs, you can choose a particular kind of clinic.

The next important factor to be considered before selecting a clinic is whether the clinic accepts insurance or any other form of medical payments. Also, find out about the services being offered at the clinic, in detail. If you are not sure about the insurance coverage, then consult your insurance provider and find out about the mental health clinics covered by them or just go online to your insurance provider’s website and you can get these details. If you can, it is better to get a referral from your family doctor or the health care provider you have been visiting. Otherwise, you can speak to your friends and family members and ask for their inputs too. Since insurance policies on providers of mental health vary widely, always check your coverage details beforehand.

If a patient is quite unstable and requires hospitalization, then it is advisable to opt for a mental health clinic operated by government, as they have direct link ups with government mental hospitals, it is a better choice. However, even private clinics have their own advantages such as they may house a number of psychiatrists and therapists who work together and render their services to the patients, this way, if a patient requires the services of therapist and psychiatrist, then he can get that in a single place. Moreover, few of these clinics may have mental health practitioners who have specialization in certain kinds of clients or therapies, such as a a child psychiatrist or a couples therapist in particular, etc. Payments for services such as therapy for an individual or for groups can be very expensive, hence never forget to contact your insurance provider before you sign up for any of these activities.

Finding the best mental health clinic, requires considerable amount of effort, since not all the clinics cater to all kinds of requirements, you have to do intense research to narrow down onto the clinic that is the best for you. Especially for people who are not residing in urban areas, there might not be much choice, since there may or may not exist a mental health care center in their neighborhood. For most of these people, it is better if they can get a referral and then find out about the clinic before making any efforts of visiting the clinic.

You might not really realize the various kinds of options available in mental health clinics, until the day you start your search. Hence, keep the above mentioned factors in mind, before you begin searching.

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The Importance of Visiting a Travel Vaccination Clinic

Nowadays, more people are able to visit countries in all corners of the Earth because they have greater spending power and lower traveling costs. The number of worldwide air travelers has been increasing every year. From 4.1 billion in 2005, the figure has risen to about 5.2 billion in 2010 and it’s forecasted to reach almost 9.1 billion in 2025. With budget airlines and budget accommodations, people can afford to go almost everywhere they wish. Perhaps, you are planning a vacation to a faraway country in South Africa, Asia, Africa or Europe? Well, the most important thing is to make early preparations and plan your trip as meticulously as possible. In the haste to get the best air ticket deal and the best accommodation, sometimes, people neglect the most important thing, which is health. This is the main reason why it’s best that you visit a travel clinic before you embark on your journey.

Peace of Mind

Whether you are traveling for pleasure or business, it’s essential to have good health. When you visit a travel clinic, you will have the peace of mind that you will not be infected by the various diseases found in the foreign country. Many people travel to Peru to experience wonderful attractions like the Machu Picchu, Nazca, Colca Canyon, Inca Trail, Batan Grande, and Huacachina. Imagine traveling all the way to Peru, all ready to enjoy the vacation of your life when without warning, you contract malaria, which may be a deadly disease. To be treated, you will have to be hospitalized, and even after you recover, it’s doubtful that you will want to continue the journey because your enthusiasm may be gone. If you are traveling with your family or friends, they will be worried and the entire trip will be a grand disaster. Is it worth it? Malaria is preventable with just a prescription antimalarial drug. In Peru, there’s also the risk of yellow fever, rabies, typhoid, hepatitis B, and others. There are various health risks for travelers to each different country so it’s best to pay a visit to a travel vaccination clinic to find out more.

Vaccinations

One of the main reasons why people go to travel clinics is to get the necessary vaccinations. In some African and South American countries, travelers are required to get yellow fever vaccination before they are allowed to enter the countries. If you are traveling to these countries, the travel doctor will recommend that you get yellow fever immunization because it’s the best way to prevent the disease, which can be life-threatening. Other diseases which can be prevented with vaccines are hepatitis A & B, European tick-borne encephalitis, typhoid, influenza, cholera, polio, Japanese encephalitis, and rabies. Travelers are advised to be up-to-date with their routine shots such as MMR vaccine, DPT vaccine, poliovirus vaccine, and so on. It’s best to visit a travel clinic at least 4 to 6 weeks prior to departure to the foreign country.

Professional Advice

Visiting a foreign country is very exciting because there’s so much to discover about the country but that’s no excuse for being unprepared. Just as you will go to a dental clinic for a dental problem, you should go to a travel vaccination clinic to find out about the health risks associated with a foreign country. The doctors who practice in health clinics are best-equipped to provide professional advice and recommendations in regards to the country you are planning to visit. Other than vaccinations, they can also inform you about the safety of food and water in the foreign country as well as the best hospitals or clinics, the risks of sexually transmitted diseases, medical expenses, medical insurance, and more. It’s important to remember that each country is different so the doctor at the travel clinic will make recommendations according to your travel itinerary. For instance, the water supply in many developing countries is not sufficiently clean so you have to bring your own portable water filter or iodine tablets and you may contract a parasitic infection known as schistosomiasis in the fresh water of some countries. What kind of medication should you bring along? A specialist at the travel vaccination clinic will give you all the necessary health information about any country you wish to go.

When you plan to go on a vacation to a foreign country, you are not just investing financially in the air tickets, car rental, hotels, and tickets to visit places of interests but more importantly, you are investing your time and effort to make it a memorable trip.

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Project Risk Management and Assurance

Why do so many organisations embark on high-risk projects without demanding robust project assurance?

Projects fail for many reasons. Recent global studies indicate that inadequate risk management is a common cause.

Successful project managers aim to resolve high levels of exposure before they occur, via systematic risk management processes.

Many projects are inherently exposed to myriad risks and are often significant in scale, complexity and ambition. Delivering large-scale projects can often be adversely impacted by a bias towards being over-optimistic.

Imperfect, insufficient or inadequate data increases exposure that often results in over-estimating benefits and under-estimating costs.

Managing macro and micro-level events related to achieving project deliverables, whilst balancing the needs of many stakeholders, has become increasingly important.

Assessing risks at both portfolio and work-stream levels helps increase confidence that risks are understood.

Projects are often prioritised relevant to their levels of perceived exposure and one has its own risk profile.

Project Risk Management

Project risk management focuses on identifying, analysing and responding to project events.

It should be designed to systematically identify and manage levels of uncertainty and potential threats to delivering project objectives successfully.

Risk management processes should be iterative throughout a project’s life-cycle and embedded in project management planning and activities. Smaller projects often require minor work and periodic monitoring.

Complex projects need formalised processes to analyse, manage and report risks.

Good reporting relies on clear descriptions of all exposure, their impact on the projects, and potential costs for mitigation and inaction.

This helps ensure project personnel understand the potential impact risks may have on projects’ success and have prepared strategies to minimise negative consequences.

Problems occur when there is limited visibility of risks at project and portfolio levels or approaches to risk-management are ad-hoc and inconsistent.

Further problems can arise when risks are identified but recorded at a very high level accompanied by highly subjective risk ratings, rather than being the result of more substantive risk assessment.

When these problems arise, an organisation would benefit from clearer, more formal and wide-spread processes for capturing and monitoring risks.

Project and Portfolio Risk Assessments

Project and portfolio risk assessments should be undertaken to understand their risk profiles and associated threats in achieving business objectives.

Assessments should identify the action plans to address the risks identified and allocate executive responsibility to manage them. Additional risk assessments should be carried out on selected projects (perhaps by prioritising them by value or complexity).

Risk management processes should be on-going and monitored throughout a project’s life-cycle.

Regular risk reports would provide Project Sponsors, Senior Responsible Officers and Steering Groups with better visibility of projects’ risk profiles.

Whether you’re responsible for overseeing or managing a project, robust project assurance will help you address the risks that threaten its success.

Mark Gwilliam FCCA CA is the founder and Director of Business Advisory Services.

From humble beginnings, the firm has grown from strength to strength.

It has matured from a small accounting and tax services practice to one that helps small business owners, entrepreneurs and executives navigate complex challenges; including strategy, risk management and internal audit, managing shared-service centres and operations.

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