Tag Archives: quality health care

Clinics help workers stay on the job

Convenience Care Clinics Help Workers Get Back On The Job Faster

While we all expect quality health care to be available when it’s needed, our future could be flat lining. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, meager graduation and physician training rates in our country could cause a shortage of up to 150,000 doctors within the next 15 years.  As many of us are aware, Arizona already is battling an on-going primary care physician shortage, which will cause wait times and delays in care to grow in the coming years.  Because of this, no-appointment convenience care clinics have become an important and growing part of our healthcare landscape.

The Rand Corp. recently performed a survey which showed that convenience care clinics staffed by nurse practitioners or physicians assistants can treat acute, everyday illnesses in a way that is quick, convenient and significantly more affordable for the patient, without sacrificing quality. Convenience care clinics have shorter wait times than emergency rooms, help people avoid lengthy physician appointment scheduling delays, and in some cases, require a payment that is less than an office visit co-pay or co-insurance.  In short, convenience care clinics help people with minor illnesses return to good health and get back to their daily routine, and are efficient in doing so.

There are now 1,200 quick-care clinics operating in 32 states, according to the Convenient Care Association. In Arizona, Cigna Medical Group has opened nine CMG CareToday clinics since 2007, with at least two more planned this year and a newly opened facility off of the Metro Light Rail in down town Phoenix. Other health care organizations – including some Arizona hospitals – are recognizing that this facility model can help direct people to the right health resource based on the severity or simplicity of their symptoms.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, seven of the 10 most common reasons people go to the doctor are for minor needs that can be successfully treated by a physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner. Yet to function optimally, the providers in convenience care clinics should be integrated into a large medical group or health system in two ways.  First, they should be programmatically linked with supporting primary care physicians in order to make the treatment of patients more effective.  Secondly, they should share electronic health records with these same primary care physicians to have direct access to the detailed patient records prior to providing the acute care and to communicate back to the physician who is providing ongoing care.  If a system like this were in place at more neighborhood walk-in clinics, it would become easier for patients to go to a convenience care clinic for quick treatment, and still be sure that their primary care physician will be updated about any important changes in their health.

Not only is this critical in our personal lives, but access to healthcare (or delays to it) also has deep implications in the workplace. During this time where businesses are facing a great deal of economic stress, many offices are operating as leanly as possible and the absence of just one sick co-worker disturbs an entire department.  Because of this fact, employees are trying to be fully productive.

According to a 2008 survey conducted by Yankelovich for CIGNA, about 61 percent of U.S. workers said they reported for duty while they were sick or coping with family and personal matters.  On average, they did this more than twice as often as they missed work.  Employees who are ill at work are not fully “at work.” Their productivity, morale and concentration drops. Employees realize that presenteeism affects the workplace. In the same survey, 62 percent said they were less productive on those days they came to work too distracted to perform at their fullest potential. Yet, convenience care clinics – especially when located near dense, urban employment hubs – make it possible for employees to receive medical care near the office and return to work that same hour, or return home with medicine in hand to assist a speedy recovery.

This convenience care clinic model is proving to be effective and under demand in Arizona because more than ever before, greater health care access is crucial. Arizona continues to experience a shortage of primary care doctors, with a physician-to-population ratio that is below the national average, according to the American Medical Association.

It is our hope that more healthcare organizations, employers and individuals will help advance a new, stratified level of service: convenience care clinics for minor ailments, physician offices for more complex or specialty needs, urgent care centers for serious wounds or injuries, and quality emergency rooms for life-threatening needs.

A cooperative effort toward better public education and understanding as to which type of facility to seek for the appropriate  level of care would be a valuable step towards preventing over-crowding at emergency rooms and physician offices. Such an effort would assure that each type of facility provides the right care at the right time when patients come through the door. This adaptability, along with innovation, can give the customer quality care every time.

Rona Curphy - AZ Business Magazine Sept/Oct 2010

Rona Curphy, President And CEO Of Casa Grande Regional Medical Center

Rona Curphy
President And CEO
Casa Grande Regional Medical Center
www.casagrandehospital.com

As president and CEO of Casa Grande Regional Medical Center, Rona Curphy has moved to the top of the medical field thanks to her years of dedication.

From 2002 to 2009, Curphy served as the chief nursing officer at the nonprofit community-based hospital in Casa Grande. When she was asked to be interim CEO in February 2009, she jumped at the new experience. Curphy saw it as an opportunity to grow in her profession and to learn new skills. About five months later, Curphy was named Casa Grande Regional Medical Center’s official president and CEO.

As president and CEO, Curphy works to ensure that the hospital implements the strategic plans adopted by the board of directors.

“My duties are making sure we meet our mission, our vision of organization, making sure people are on top of strategic goals, engaging partners, providing the best quality health care environment for them to practice in, and making sure the staff has a great environment to work in,” Curphy says.

Curphy emphasizes that in her role she tries to be a visible and active community member. She sits on the chambers of different cities, on an economic development board and attends events so the hospital will be viewed as a part of the community.

Although Curphy currently does not hold a position on the Arizona Hospital and Health Care Association’s (AzHHA) board or committees, she has been very active with the organization in the past. While serving on the patient safety committee, Curphy looked at new patient initiatives throughout the state.

“I had to look at everybody’s concerns and issues as we made decisions going forward,” Curphy says.

She also served on the Campaign for Caring committee, where she ended up chairing one of four task forces. On the government affairs committee, Curphy helped give legislators ideas on what stands the hospital and health care community wanted them to take on issues. She points out that AzHHA is an important organization to the community and to hospitals.

“AzHHA is our voice across Arizona,” Curphy says. “Having one voice where lots of members can give ideas, gives us opportunities to work with the Legislature to get things done.”

Curphy says another key benefit of AzHHA is that it offers the opportunity to network nationwide. But Curphy adds, a big challenge AzHHA faces is being able to successfully manage networking events during a very busy time in the health care industry. With all of the new legislation on health care being written and passed, it is easy to get caught up in focusing solely on the issues, rather than the networking aspect of the organization, she says.

Curphy wants to see more members take advantage of the opportunities that AzHHA presents, and to get involved in the events the organization hosts. In addition, Curphy says AzHHA has to focus on maintaining and recruiting new members, “… and making sure (the organization is) not too costly for members, or difficult for members to participate. If they make the cost too much, there will only be a few members, and the end result doesn’t allow for great networking.

“I think it is up to (AzHHA) to get out to member hospitals, to get people out there to say, ‘Get involved,’” Curphy says.


arizona Business Magazine Sept/Oct 2010