Patients occasionally have a choice to go to either a hospital outpatient center or a private physician's office for certain non-emergency medical procedures, like hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT). This is unlike certain other procedures, including an MRI, for instance, where most commercial insurance companies and Medicare require their insureds visit a private diagnostic center, rather than a hospital.
So the question is: Since hospital outpatient clinics and private medical practices are both viable options for certain procedures, how do you make your decision where to go? This post offers you some guidance.
PRIVATE MEDICAL PRACTICES
A 2004 study shared by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, which assesses how people choose between hospital outpatient clinics and private physician offices, states:
“A higher percentage of PP [private practice] patients accorded importance to physician communication skills and trust.” Plus, many people who choose to go to a private practice do so because someone they know recommended it.
Personal recommendations can make all the difference, for any type of business, not just private medical practices. A Nielsen Survey published by the global measurement and data analytics company in September 2015 states: “The most credible form of advertising comes straight from the people we know and trust.” This doesn’t just include those in the United States, either. “Eighty-three percent of online respondents in 60 countries say they trust the recommendations of friends and family,” the survey found.
A patient who visits a private practice will also likely spend far less out-of-pocket than those who choose a hospital-based clinic. The fees at a hospital outpatient clinic can be more than four times higher than in a private office, which are then passed on to patients through higher co-insurance or co-pay responsibilities. Not only are the fees higher, hospital-based clinics require two co-pays, as there are two separate components of payment. Incidentally, cost-savings is one of the main reasons commercial insurance companies and Medicare often require their insureds visit a private practice, as in the MRI example cited above.
With respect to cost-savings, Medicare patients, especially those without supplemental insurance, would also benefit more from visiting a private practice, since the federal program only covers 80% of the cost of treatment. If a patient doesn't have a supplemental insurance, he or she will be responsible for paying the remaining 20% of the charges out-of-pocket, which would be much greater at a hospital, given its far higher cost of care.
Other reasons patients may seek treatment at private medical offices compared to a hospital outpatient center include ease of access and parking, or simply the personal touch of a private practice, when compared to the often institutional setting of a hospital outpatient center.
Lastly, the previously mentioned study discusses how the ability to “obtain a first appointment quickly" is a reason patients may choose an outpatient hospital center over a private practice. However, keep in mind that this is not always the case, especially considering the flexibility of a private office to alter its hours or personnel to accommodate patients.
HOSPITAL OUTPATIENT CLINICS
On the other hand, some patients may feel more comfortable at a hospital outpatient clinic, simply because of its institutional setting. Patients may feel more comfortable knowing the outpatient clinic they are visiting is connected to a larger in-house network of other departments and providers. Where a patient requires several different services, all of which may be provided by the hospital system, there may also be an ease of sharing of records and interdepartmental communication. Patients may also prefer visiting an outpatient clinic because they may be more easily transferred to the hospital should an emergency arise.
Hyperbaric Medical Solutions is a private, physician-run hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) practice with two locations on Long Island and one location in Manhattan. We specialize in providing our patients HBOT to help them heal from a variety of ailments, conditions and diseases, including but not limited to radiation tissue damage (resulting from radiation therapy), lower diabetic extremity wounds (diabetic foot ulcers), crush injuries, failed skin grafts and flaps and other surgical complications, as well as chronic pain management, Lyme disease, and concussion recovery. Learn more about what HBOT is or contact us today to schedule a consultation.