Objective: To assess healthcare utilization patterns associated with high (≥3 visits/year) urgent care utilization.
Study design: Retrospective analysis of 2 723 792 children who were less than 19 years of age in the 2013 Marketscan Medicaid database. Healthcare utilization categorized as inpatient, emergency department, urgent care, well-child primary care provider (PCP), acute PCP, and specialist visits was documented for 4 groups. We hypothesized that children with high urgent care utilization would have decreased utilization at other sites of care. Multivariable logistic models compared the odds of high urgent care utilization.
Results: Of children in the study population, 92.0% had no urgent care visits; 4.7% had 1; 1.5% had 2; and 1.0% had ≥3. Patient attributes of high urgent care utilization were: ages 1-2 years (aOR = 2.32, 95% CI: 2.18-2.36, reference group: 13-18 years), presence of a complex chronic condition (CCC) (aOR = 1.98, 95% CI: 1.88-2.07, reference group: no CCC) and no CCC but ≥3 chronic conditions (aOR = 2.85, 95% CI: 2.73-2.97, reference group: no CCC, no chronic conditions). High urgent care utilization was associated with ≥5 PCP visits for acute care (aOR = 1.16, 95% CI: 1.11-1.20, reference group: 0 visits), and ≥3 emergency department visits (aOR = 2.15, 95% CI: 2.10-2.23, reference group: 0 visits).
Conclusions: Increased urgent care utilization was associated with an increase in overall healthcare utilization. Even though those with higher urgent care utilization had more visits for acute care, patients continued to see their PCP for both well-child and acute care visits.
Keywords: ambulatory care; emergency services; pediatrics; primary healthcare.
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