Less Wait, Less Cost: Here’s How the ZOOM+Super Clinic Stacks Up Against the Emergency Department

August 11, 2020

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$238 for generic eye drops. $60 for children’s ibuprofen. $629 for a band-aid. These may sound like the worst 'Price Is Right' bids of all time, but they’re real line items on emergency room bills—bills for items a patient could pick up at a drugstore.

If you think there’s something seriously wrong with that, you’re not alone. We think so, too. That’s why we created the ZOOM+Super Clinic: our Emergency Room alternative in Portland, OR.

The ZOOM+Super Clinic exists to fill the gap between the ER and Urgent Care. It’s an accessible, affordable, fast, and stress-free option for treating serious injuries or illnesses, offering a stark counterpoint to the overcrowding and chaos in traditional emergency rooms. In most cases, patients are in and out of Super in less than an hour. For those paying the uninsured rate, the price is flat $549—a fraction of what one can expect from an ER bill.

If you have insurance, it’s even better: because many insurance companies view our Super Clinic as "specialist" rather than emergency care, it’s less expensive, and more likely to be covered. That means less out-of-pocket expenses for you. 

Think our Super Clinic sounds too good to be true? Keep reading to learn more about how we’re taking on traditional Emergency care, one problem at a time: 

Emergency room problem #1: A startling lack of transparency

When you walk into an Emergency Room, the only certainty is that nothing is certain. It’s a game of billing-and-wait-time roulette.

Part of the uncertainty around ER costs comes from something called a “facility fee”—the fee a hospital charges to keep their doors open 24/7. It doesn’t include any care provided, either—it’s a charge for simply walking through an emergency room’s doors. The problem is, these fees are not public, and they vary greatly from hospital to hospital. You could be charged as little as $533 for a facility fee, or well over $3,000, depending on which hospital you visit and how severe your injury is. Yep, billing roulette. 

In an ER setting, there’s also a lack of transparency about how your injury or illness will be treated. As Dr. Mark Zeitzer, our Medical Director of Acute Care Services, says,  “When you go to the ER, you don’t know what they’re going to do to you, when they’re going to do it, how much it’s going to cos, how long it’s going to take or who’s going to do it. Long story short, you don’t know anything.” 

An examination room inside of ZOOM+Care's Super Clinic
A Super Clinic examination room

ZOOM+Super’s solution

In a traditional ER setting, patients learn what their emergency room visit costs when they receive a bill weeks to months later. Emergency room bills in Oregon range from $150-$3,000 with some costing as much as $20,000, or even more. At ZOOM+Super, there is no uncertainty about what things will cost.  Our uninsured rate for an emergency office visit is $549, with imaging included. That’s less than the cost of a band-aid at some emergency rooms! If you have insurance, we’ll give you a quote up front so you know what to expect.

Our pricing isn’t the only thing that’s transparent, either. After your provider assesses your situation, they outline a care plan for you in plain sight, on a whiteboard. This includes what labs, images including (X-ray/US and CT) medication and fluids will be done or given and how long it will take.  Nothing is a mystery—our providers take the time to ensure that you feel comfortable and that you understand exactly what your treatment entails. 

Emergency room problem #2: The prices are high—like, really high 

$236 for a pregnancy test? Oftentimes, patients in the ER receive drugstore items at a significant markup—in this case, 29 times the drugstore price. And they’re paying higher bills as a result.

These high costs sting, especially when you consider how many people in the Emergency Room don't actually need to be there. Which brings us to our next point...

x-ray at the ZOOM+Care Super clinic in Portland.
Imaging is included in the Super Clinic's flat fee

ZOOM+Super’s Solution

The ZOOM+Super Clinic can treat 80% of the reasons adults and kids go to the ER, and it can do so faster, cheaper, more efficiently, and overall better.  No $625 band-aids here—just a transparent, uninsured rate of $549. Our flat fee covers everything from labs to imaging, and yes, band-aids.

But what if you think you need to go to the ER, but you’re not sure? Here’s a good rule-of-thumb: If you have an urgent medical issue, but not one that's so life-threatening you need to call an ambulance, go to Super. We have board certified emergency physicians onsite, along with CT scans, IV fluids, labs, IV medications, X-Rays, and ultrasound. 

If you do need to be admitted to the hospital, we will arrange an admission directly to the facility of your choice, allowing you to bypass the hospital emergency room altogether.

Problem #3: Long wait times 

In Oregon, the average wait time before being seen by a doctor ranges from 28-55 minutes—and that’s just the amount of time patients spend in the waiting room. The average time spent in the ER before being sent home ranges from 90-216 minutes. That means—best case scenario—you can get in and out of the Emergency Room in two hours. Worst case scenario? You’re sitting there for over four hours. 

The outside of our Super Clinic on NE Grand
The outside of our Super Clinic, located on NE Grand street in Portland

ZOOM+Super’s Solution

At the Super Clinic, the average wait time is 0 minutes. Instead of making patients wait for an unspecified amount of time in a crowded room full of sick people, we allow them to schedule a room online with their phone. When they arrive, they’re taken right back to their treatment room by their provider. The average time a patient spends in Super is 47 minutes total. 

While there’s still a long way to go in fixing the broken emergency care system, our ZOOM+Super clinic is a small-but-meaningful step in the right direction—one with many positive impacts for patients in Oregon.

While we hope you don't need the Super Clinic, we’re here for you if you do. A visit is just a few clicks away, always.

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