Here, Dr. Badia discusses the benefits of linking an urgent care center to ambulatory surgery centers.
Q: What is the advantage of having an urgent care center linked with the ASC?
Dr. Alejandro Badia: Patients can arrive without an appointment and receive treatment for injuries like fractures in a setting that is more specialized than general urgent care.
If you twist your ankle, for example, you would probably go to a local urgent care center, take an X-ray, and if the injury were severe enough, you would be told to follow up with an orthopedist. But the onus is on you to find that surgeon. At an OrthoNOW center, you'd have someone who can address the subtleties of fractures and other injuries.
Q: What is the difference for patients between your urgent care facility and a hospital emergency department?
AB: We are quicker. One patient came to me with an elbow dislocation, and from start to finish, she was out the door in an hour and twenty minutes. There is also a therapy center onsite where she did rehab afterward, and she was able to put everything on her credit card — it was not at all expensive. Compare this to going to the hospital, where the patient receives a standard bill and is waiting there for hours to receive treatment.
With OrthoNOW, there's a direct contract between the patient and me. I don't need anything authorized — the only person who should have to authorize anything is the patient.
Q: What challenges have you faced while developing OrthoNOW?
AB: Physicians have understandably been trained to be cautious and skeptical, so for them to embrace something new like this is a little difficult. We also have to constantly remind patients that they don't need an appointment — it really is a walk-in center.
Another big challenge is reimbursement. Insurance companies don't embrace the center — it's very difficult to get any kinds of contracts, and getting these bureaucracies to change is extremely difficult.
Q: How do you attract patients to the center?
AB: We have a website and iPhone app showing the locations of all OrthoNOW centers — they show one center location now, but within a year, there will be several in Florida, and possibly centers in international locations like Jamaica. The iPhone app also includes frequently asked orthopedic questions, a list of services, a map and an option to contact the center directly.
Q: What is the ideal market for an urgent orthopedic care center?
AB: It should ideally be in an office space adjacent to a surgery center, and there must be orthopedic surgeons there to cover it. The best situation would be a multi-specialty orthopedic group that includes foot, spine, hand and pediatric orthopedists. This is something that they would be able to offer to the community — coupled with the ambulatory surgery center upstairs, the center would be able to fix orthopedic injuries right away.
Q: What do you envision for the future of OrthoNOW?
AB: I really think that as OrthoNOW expands, it will reach out to the national surgery center companies as a way for them to capture orthopedic injuries from larger hospitals that are also doing the surgeries. I envision the day when hospitals won't cater to routine ankle fractures, finger injuries or simple disc herniations — where patients can literally walk out of the surgery center after having their injury treated.
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