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A Brief Overview of Freestanding Emergency Centers

October 11, 2018

While not necessarily a new model of care delivery, the explosion of freestanding emergency centers (FEC) in Texas has captured the interest of the healthcare industry. As a leader in providing Electronic Medical Record (EMR) technology to these providers, EPOWERdoc has a built a strong foundation in serving the unique needs of the FEC.

What is a Freestanding Emergency Center (FEC)?

Some FEC are run by hospitals, while others – predominantly in Texas – are run by independent organizations owned by physicians or other investors. In most states, FEC are licensed to provide emergency care, but completely separate from acute-care hospitals. It is typical for FEC to have agreements with area hospitals so they can transfer patients who need admission.

How do FEC differ from hospital-based ER’s or acute care centers?

FEC are required to provide all the services hospital-based emergency department provides, with the exception of trauma care. The primary benefit to patients is that wait times at FEC are often much shorter than in a traditional hospital-based ER. FEC differ from “urgent” or “acute” care centers in that they are required to be open all hours and all days, provide 24/7 lab and imaging services and stock medications not available at acute care centers. Building considerations and training requirements are also more stringent with the FEC than the acute care center.

Aren’t FEC cost-prohibitive for the patient – especially the uninsured?

Like hospitals, FEC are required to serve patients regardless of the ability to pay. The vast majority of FEC treat uninsured patients exactly as hospitals do by providing waivers and other cost reductions to accommodate individual financial hardships.

Why are patients choosing FEC?

The Texas Association of Freestanding Emergency Centers (TAFEC), of which EPOWERdoc is a supporter, puts it best with this summary offered on its website at tafec.org:

“Freestanding emergency centers offer a unique and vital set of benefits for patients seeking emergency medical care:

  • Access – Freestanding emergency centers provide access to emergency medical care for every patient who comes to them.

  • Quality – Freestanding emergency centers provide consummate quality of care. They are licensed, closely regulated, fully equipped for all medical emergencies and required to have an ER physician on-duty at all times.

  • Convenience – Freestanding emergency centers provide unparalleled convenience. They are frequently closer and wait time is consistently quicker than hospital ERs, and unlike urgent-care facilities, they are required to be open 24/7 to provide all levels of care.

  • Cost – Freestanding emergency centers charge equal to or less than hospital ERs for emergency care that often exceeds the hospital ER standard.

  • Satisfaction – Among all urgent- and emergency-care providers, Freestanding emergency centers receive the highest satisfaction scores from everyone involved – patients, physicians and staff.

Additionally, according to the American College of Emergency Room Physicians:

  • only 8% of emergency patients have non-urgent conditions;

  • emergency departments have a federal mandate to treat everyone, regardless of their ability to pay;

  • two-thirds of emergency visits occur after business hours or when the doctor’s office is closed; and

  • the growing elderly population is driving necessary access to emergency care.

Freestanding emergency centers can meet these needs while reducing hospital overcrowding and letting hospital ERs focus on taking care of the most serious cases.”

About EPOWERdoc

EPOWERdoc is a leader in computerized Emergency Department Information Systems (EDIS), using a design team comprised of emergency physicians and nurses. Additionally, EPOWERdoc provides superior medical content for other vendor EMR builds. As it was from the beginning, the EPOWERdoc mission is centered on excellence, integrity and service. Every employee is committed to going above and beyond in meeting the needs of the client, while focusing on the specialized needs of the physicians, nurses and hospitals they serve.

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