07 February 2013
In a society where convenience has become an important pillar of customer service, patients have begun to demand that of their healthcare. In response to this demand, the healthcare industry has had to rethink the way it offers its services. To manage high patient volumes and overcrowded ERs flooded with non-emergency patients, practices and hospitals have developed services and clinics where patients can access healthcare during off-peak hours. The expansion of these new healthcare outlets has created a variety of jobs that present healthcare professionals with excellent opportunities to work in new environments where they can take their careers in new directions. Three of the emerging trends in healthcare that may benefit your career are Urgent Care, Outpatient Clinics & Ambulatory Care, and Telemedicine. Urgent Care Urgent care centers are medical facilities that provide walk-in, extended hour access for patients seeking acute illness and injury care. Staffed with physicians, physician assistants, nurses, and nurse practitioners, the centers treat patients beyond the scope of their primary care physician’s availability. Though urgent care centers have been around since the 70’s, it wasn’t until 2009 when the Urgent Care Association of America (UCAOA) established their regulatory criteria. As a result, according to research done by the UCAOA, today there are approximately 8,700 centers in the United States. 85% of those centers open at 8 AM or earlier, while 90.6% close after 7 PM. On average, these centers receive 150 million visits annually. With the demand for urgent care expected to grow, now is an excellent time for medical professionals to seek employment within an urgent care facility. Outpatient Clinics/ Ambulatory Care An outpatient clinic is another medical facility where patients can seek care beyond the typical Monday – Friday, 9-5, functioning schedule. These clinics, often associated with a hospital, can perform specialized investigations and interventions such as minor surgical and diagnostic procedures. Ambulatory care is a promising division of healthcare to pursue a career in because hospitals have recently realized its potential and have begun investing in outpatient clinics. For example, when St. Vincent’s closed in New York 2 years ago, other hospitals looking to invest in outpatient care flocked to the vacant medical site. More recently, NYU Langone Medical Center and North Shore LIJ have increased their focus on expanding their outpatient presence in the New York City area. Most outpatient clinics are specialized in a particular field, and offer excellent opportunities for medical professionals who have a specific medical focus. Telemedicine Telemedicine is another growing healthcare trend that is gaining popularity in lieu of visiting a crowded emergency room. In a world where a lack of time and convenience often get in the way of people seeking necessary medical attention, telehealth has prevailed as a sufficient solution. Through telemedicine, patients can communicate with physicians via phone or videoconference, and receive a medical consultation about minor medical conditions with a diagnosis and recommendations. Teladoc is just one example of a telemedicine service that doctors and patients can sign up to be a part of. In fact, hospitals like Beth Israel have recently begun offering telehealth services exclusively through Teladoc. With the growth of partnerships between services like Teladoc and hospitals and doctors, telemedicine will soon not only be a fringe benefit, but a mainstream medical service that will increase the accessibility of superior healthcare globally.