Lower cost ER alternative opens in Tampa Bay with region’s first GuideWell Emergency Doctors

By: Lissette Campos, Enterprise Communications

New medical facility provides access to top board-certified emergency doctors at one-third the costs and 50% less wait time

The first of six GuideWell Emergency Doctors in the Tampa Bay area opened today. The innovative new medical facility combines the technology and medical personnel associated with a hospital ER and the convenience and low-cost of an urgent care clinic. The medical facilities are operated and staffed by Crucial Care.

GuideWell Emergency Doctors is equipped with on-site diagnostic equipment including CT scan, X-ray, ultrasound and certified labs, reducing the need to send patients to other locations for diagnostic services or waiting hours for results. Patients are treated by board-certified emergency medicine physicians, and the medical facility is staffed with bilingual health professionals.

The first of three locations in Hillsborough County opened today in the stadium area at 4744 North Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa. GuideWell Emergency Doctors is open seven days a week to treat both emergency and urgent medical needs of patients of all ages with hours Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

A total of six Tampa Bay area locations will open in the coming months in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties including Tampa’s University area and Northdale, as well as St. Petersburg, Largo and Palm Harbor.

An alternative to overcrowded, high-cost emergency rooms

“Every year, an estimated $30 billion or more are spent on avoidable emergency room visits,” said Dr. Elana Schrader, GuideWell Health president and GuideWell senior vice president of Health Care Services. “On average, treatment at GuideWell Emergency Doctors costs patients one-third of the cost of an ER visit and results in 30% fewer hospital admissions than those seeking treatment at a hospital emergency room for their major medical issues.”

The statistics and metrics are based on six years of success in Central Florida where GuideWell Emergency Doctors originated in 2014. It’s three greater Orlando locations handled more than 47,000 patient visits last year, while averaging patient satisfaction scores in the 90th percentile.

GuideWell Emergency Doctors treats a wide range of medical conditions ranging from upper respiratory issues and chest pain or cardiac related concerns—it’s two most prevalent medical emergencies.

“GuideWell Emergency Doctors is a unique model unlike anything else available in Tampa Bay,” said Dr. Nicholas Dodaro, chief medical officer of Crucial Care. “Our board-certified emergency medicine physician led team is delivering a better emergency care experience with half the wait time compared to a traditional ER.”

During the pandemic, the facilities also began offering COVID-19 testing with its three Central Florida locations administering more than 17,000 tests—including over 6,000 tests administered via drive-up during the spike in cases last summer.

Reducing Surprise Bills

GuideWell Emergency Doctors helps patients understand health care costs and avoid surprise bills. The facilities provide transparent pricing to patients, who are made aware of how much their visits and treatments will cost before any services are started. Afterwards, patients receive only one bill for all diagnostic evaluations, procedures, lab work, physician examinations and other services provided while at the facility—unlike most traditional emergency room visits, which result in multiple invoices from different groups. GuideWell Emergency Doctors accepts most insurance plans and Medicare, or patients can pay on their own.

Upon discharge, GuideWell Emergency Doctors coordinates care directly with the patient’s primary care physician. They can facilitate same-day or next-day referrals to specialists or admissions directly into a hospital, when clinically appropriate, all while ensuring the patient remains within their insurance plan’s network to keep their out-of-pocket costs down.