KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Urgent Care Clinics Find Place In Market, Other Health Care Industry News

Florida Today/USA Today reports that urgent care clinics, "in a growing trend," are seeing consumers increasingly turn to walk-in clinics "and urgent care centers for treatment of minor ailments and injuries instead of trying to squeeze in an appointment with a primary care provider or waiting at a crowded emergency room. … In fact, urgent care clinics are getting so popular that a handful of physicians groups and entrepreneurs are starting to franchise them a la McDonald's or Jiffy Lube. Doctors Express, based in Towson, Md., bills itself as the 'first-ever national urgent care franchise.'" The move has ramifications for health spending, which some say could be driven down if patients used such clinics more (Price, 10/10).

The Washington Post reports that Washington D.C.-area hospitals are increasingly turning to converting rooms to private rooms in a bid to satisfy consumer demand. "The next-generation room being designed at many of Washington's nearly two dozen acute-care community hospitals will be single-patient spaces - outfitted with flat-screen televisions with updated patient information, big bay windows to bring in natural light, soothing earth tones and a couch where family members and friends can rest. Consumer demand for private hospital rooms has spurred hospital renovation and construction projects across the region in the past decade, while research outlining the health benefits of privacy and noise reduction have gained notice. A Washington Post analysis of 23 existing or planned hospitals in the Washington region found that nearly all of the facilities have either already converted to all private rooms or are in the process of doing so" (Kravitz, 10/9).

In other hospital industry news, American Medical News reports: "Illinois hospitals directly or indirectly supported 426,700 jobs in 2009, according to a report issued Sept. 24 by the Illinois Hospital Assn. These institutions generated $75.1 billion in spending by purchasing supplies or paying staffers who in turn spent their paychecks on goods and services" (10/11).

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