Does your doctor know about your Urgent Care visit?
If you go to one of Cape Cod Healthcare’s Urgent Care centers in Sandwich, Hyannis, Falmouth, Osterville or Harwich, your primary care doctor will receive an update about it – maybe before you even get back home.
“I always get an email notification from the urgent care center or the ER that my patient has been seen there,” said Miguel Prieto, MD, a specialist in internal medicine at the Bourne Health Center. “Whatever treatment was done is made available to me, so we can provide follow-up.”
“It’s a very neat process in terms of how we coordinate with the urgent care and the ER, said Kumara Sidhartha MD, MPH, a specialist in internal medicine and Medical Director of the Cape Cod Healthcare ACO. “The primary care team is the main hub, so to speak, but all the care teams are on the same page. The different entities – primary care, the urgent care and the ER – work together to help the patient be cared for during their journey, after an acute episode of illness.”
Primary care providers receive information on their patients who have been to the urgent care centers “almost in real time,” according to Dr. Sidhartha.
“It gives us a snapshot of the encounter,” he said. “It’s important for us to know what kind of clinical situation they went through, whether it was an injury, an acute illness or sudden worsening of a chronic illness.”
According to Dr. Sidhartha, among the information the CCHC urgent care centers pass on patients’ doctors are:
- The reason they went to the urgent care center
- What tests were performed
- Test results
- What types of assessments were done
- What diagnosis was made
- The treatment the patient received
- Follow-up recommendations
The advantage of that timely communication for patients is that “it prevents fragmented care,” said Dr. Prieto. “We know what the urgent care center did and we can provide follow-up if something else is needed. We check with the patient to see if they’re doing better.”
Patients are contacted by the scheduling team, often the same day they are seen at the urgent care facility, he said.
Often the patient will see their primary care team after an ER or urgent care visit, “so that we can follow-up on the clinical improvement of the patient and make sure they get back to good health,” said Dr. Sidhartha.
“From the patient’s perspective, it’s important for them to know that, at every step along the way, there’s a care team that is making sure that their health needs from that acute episode are met. Their needs are different at different stages. When they’re in the ER or the urgent care, the need may be more acute than at the primary care office. The follow-up visit at the primary care office makes sure their recovery continues in the right direction and that new treatments are completed.”
Knowing that a patient had urgent or emergency care, the primary care physician will monitor what Dr. Sidhartha calls their “regular baseline conditions.” If they have hypertension or high blood pressure or diabetes, physicians can follow-up and make sure their acute incident didn’t make those things worse, he said
For obvious emergencies, people should call 911 and go to the ER by ambulance, he said. In other situations, he recommended calling the office of their primary care doctors, if it’s during regular business hours.
When patients call the primary care team, “we can work with the patient to make the best decision as to how best treat the patient in that situation and where the care should be,” said Dr. Sidhartha.