It turns out some of South Florida's largest hospital systems are taking a page out of the urgent-care playbook.
Questions about the safety and efficiency of urgent-care and retail clinics were raised during Thursday's panel discussion at the Tower Forum, a monthly gathering of Broward County business professionals.
Broward-based Memorial Healthcare System opened its first urgent-care center in 1976, according to President and CEO Frank Sacco.
"We currently are tracking almost 60,000 visits at that urgent care center," says Sacco.
Holy Cross Hospital now has two urgent-care centers – in Fort Lauderdale and Boca Raton. Holy Cross President and CEO Dr. Patrick Taylor says walk-in centers are cheaper and more convenient than emergency rooms for what’s known as “episodic care.”
“When you have that sore throat that’s intolerable at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. When you cut yourself making dinner and you just need to go get a few stitches," says Taylor. "The one-time event that can be handled promptly and efficiently.”
But both Sacco and Taylor agree with other healthcare professionals who say that urgent-care or walk-in clinics should never replace the primary care physician – a reliable family doctor who knows your medical history.
According to Merchant Medicine, a research firm that tracks walk-in medicine trends, there are at least 7,000 urgent-care clinics nationwide that offer a full complement of healthcare services --including blood tests and diagnostic imaging.