LIFE IN THE FAST TRACK: A Cost-effective Alternative for Safe, Quality, Care!

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 By Meg Helgert, FNP

Emergency departments are much needed in any community but getting primary care or urgent care in an expensive ER at such a high cost is not feasible anymore. Many Emergency Departments around the country are building their own versions of Urgent Care or Fast Tracks for just such events,  Costs to insurance companies are generally cut in half and bring in very decent revenue for the hospital as well.

When I started the Fast Track in our local major hospital it was almost an instant success. Click To Tweet

Our Fast Track took the burden off the ER physicians so they could attend to true emergencies such as heart attacks, motor vehicle accidents, and the many acute medical problems that deserve full ER support. I found that patients were triaged by the ER nurse correctly to our place and only a few needed to be moved over to the major ER for care.

Some of the struggle in getting the Fast Track up and running was needing to win over the Emergency Dept. Physicians and nurses who were not on board with the concept. As with anything new; public relations with the staff one must work with is profoundly necessary. One must prove oneself over and over to become an accepted member of the team that has been providing this part of the care for so long.

Admittedly, much of Fast Track is fun and people are taken care of in a timely way because we didn’t have the worries of what was wheeling in the door next. ER physicians missed this part of the care they provided so I needed to grasp the fact they may have these feelings as well.

Patients do not always know what is a true emergency and the Fast Track concept can quickly sort out what is needed. Many times, we would initially “fix” the problem such as a closed fracture, splint the fracture and refer to the appropriate orthopedic surgeon for follow up; or complicated lacerations can be initially closed, splinted and referred in 1-2 days. This has been an excellent addition to Emergency Departments and an approach I hope continues to grow.

I believe the concept is perfect for any busy ER and offers a different layer of care to patients who actually do not have a primary care physician.  I’m happy to share insights with practitioners considering a Fast Track!  Email me:

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