In May 2022, The Urgent Care Foundation (UCF) was awarded a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to further Antibiotic Stewardship (ABS). This grant – the inaugural federal award for UCF — will fund Urgent Care Association and College of Urgent Care Medicine ABS activities as part of a five-year cooperative agreement with the CDC (2020-2025).
Antibiotic Stewardship is the effort to improve how antibiotics are used to optimize patient safety and decrease the spread of antibiotic resistance. Antimicrobial resistance occurs when antibiotics are overused and overprescribed, and cause bacteria to adapt, survive and multiply. The CDC understands Urgent Care plays an integral role in the healthcare system and that Urgent Care centers can significantly help combat antibiotic misuse and overprescribing.
CDC released a report on July 12, 2022 describing significant surges in antibiotic-resistant infections and antibiotic use in hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic. Most antibiotics are prescribed in outpatient settings, including Urgent Care, and an estimated 30% of all antibiotics used in outpatient settings are unnecessary.
“CDC’s Office of Antibiotic Stewardship is very excited to continue to work with UCA and UCF,” said Lauri Hicks, Director of the Office with the CDC. “While we have been collaborating for several years, this gave us an opportunity to formalize the relationship and support Antibiotic Stewardship work in Urgent Care.”
UCA’s partnership with CDC and the Antibiotic Resistance Action Center (ARAC) was first formed as the organizations started to come together and ask, “How do we understand what’s happening with antibiotics in Urgent Care and what’s the most effective solution?”
It soon became clear that to launch a successful partnership, participation in a program had to be mutually beneficial; Urgent Care centers would need to have their challenges addressed and maintaining patient satisfaction was a requirement. Clinical leadership was another key success factor. It was imperative the College of Urgent Care Medicine (CUCM) be involved as a partner in these efforts from the beginning.
“UCA and CDC have the same goals in improving public health outcomes,” said J.D. Zipkin, Chief Medical Officer at GoHealth Urgent Care and Chair of the Urgent Care Association ABS Committee. “UCA values the counsel and guidance of the CDC and has worked very closely with them to develop and champion Antibiotic Stewardship throughout the industry.”
The UCA Principal Investigator for the project will be guiding participants through data feedback and leading the progress through the program. ARAC will assist with collection of the prescribing data and provide feedback to UCA for the participating centers, as well as advise on the educational strategy and generate generalizable knowledge about what works with ABS in Urgent Care, so it can be pushed out into the broader community.
“We’re thrilled,” said Cindy Liu, Co-Director and CMO with ARAC. “We’re really excited because this is a big part of the original vision when we started our partnership with UCA.”
In 2018, UCA and CUCM co-hosted an Antibiotic Stewardship Summit with ARAC and in 2019, hosted the first annual Fall Urgent Care Clinical Consortium. ABS became a component of Accreditation, and in January 2019 it became required for Accredited centers to have at least one stewardship quality initiative as part of the overarching quality plan.
Using CDC’s Core Elements of Outpatient Antibiotic Stewardship as a framework, UCA developed an Antibiotic Stewardship Commendation program, which is open to all member organizations. UCA is pleased to have established a Commitment to Antibiotic Stewardship statement for the industry accompanied by a Read it. Sign it. Live it. Campaign.
The deliverables of the new cooperative agreement with CDC – with funding from UCF – are:
The partnership will generate both qualitative and quantitative patient data, so UCA can understand what’s top of mind for them, how to talk to them and can share that information with the providers who participate.
The program is open to all Urgent Care centers. Over the nine-month program, participating centers will receive targeted education and feedback summaries to see how they’re improving and what works for them.
“Urgent Care is a rapidly growing healthcare delivery method and public health must work closely with key partners in the healthcare industry to achieve collective goals,” Hicks said. “We share the objective of safe and high-quality care for patients and are excited to work together to ensure that we achieve that objective.”
“These relationships represent a great way to continue aligning the industry with best-in-class medical standards,” Zipkin said.
Interested in participating in the Quality Improvement project to have a guided experience to implement effective ABS in your centers? Receive complimentary resources and educational materials for your staff and patient education needs, receive feedback and actionable data, and join the commitment to ABS.
Email Sabrina Balthrop, firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
“It is the responsibility of all clinicians to practice evidence-based medicine and avoid unnecessary or harmful prescribing practices,” Zipkin said. “That means that Urgent Care healthcare providers have the opportunity to counsel and educate their patients to mitigate the current rise in antibiotic resistance and multi-drug-resistant organisms (MDROs).”