As I sat reading Don Sapatkin’s coverage in the Philadelphia Inquirer of the newly released County Health Rankings for Pennsylvania, it stunned me to see the hard data reflecting the disparity in our region. I live in Chester County, which is less than 20 miles to parts of Philadelphia, yet the rankings are worlds apart, with Chester County ranked #1 and Philadelphia last at #67. Additionally, I was dismayed to see that the average wait to see a doctor in Philadelphia is 37 days. More than a month to receive medical attention? That is unacceptable.
I knew that there was a void in Philadelphia for accessible, high-quality and affordable healthcare, but seeing the cold, hard data put it into even sharper perspective for me.
Healthcare, especially lately, has become highly politicized. What nobody can deny is the basic, human need, and right, to have convenient and reasonable access to trained medical professionals. Perhaps not surprisingly, the rankings mimic wealth and per capita income rankings with Chester County ranked #1 and Philadelphia ranked #45. Wealth should not determine a person’s ability to receive medical care. Most often those in the lowest income brackets are those who are in the most need of healthcare, and least likely to have means to access it.
What should be one of the most personalized of interactions, is often one of the least. With the focus being on profits, there has become a loss of focus on the most important element – the patient. For treatment to be successful, it needs to be all about the patient – and their community. Health centers need to be connected to, and serving, the communities where they reside to truly have an impact on improving the overall health, not only of the individual, but of the whole community. Patients need to feel that they are valued and truly being seen. We need to ask who are the stakeholders and are they being served to best meet their needs?
Urgent care is one of the fastest-growing segments in the country’s healthcare industry, but it has been slower to be embraced in the city of Philadelphia. We are pleased to fill that void as we expand our urgent care centers throughout the city. Our centers enable patients to seek prompt medical attention from physicians and other skilled professionals and even (possibly most importantly) receive preventative care and guidelines, to improve long-term health. People rarely want to go to the doctor, but by practicing more healthy habits, those visits can be diminished. As technology continues to advance, the ability to receive medical care where it is most convenient, and the ability to share that medical knowledge, increases.
It is the responsibility of those of us in healthcare to find ways to increase access to medical care for all. In Philadelphia, and throughout the country, healthcare must continue to evolve to meet the needs and challenges of all patients, regardless of their zip code. Urgent care is the “new way to be seen” and we are proud to serve all Philadelphians who need care.
– Peter Hotz, Vybe Urgent Care President & CEO