If you’ve ever spent multiple hours waiting for emergency room care, you already know one of the primary reasons that people visit an urgent care facility. Here’s why these important walking clinics are so crucial to our national healthcare system.
We Need Medical Help More Than Ever Before
By the year 2030, the vast majority of the Baby Boom generation will be managing some kind of chronic medical condition. Yet our hospital system and private doctor system is not expanding quickly enough to meet this coming need. That’s where an urgent care facility can come in.
Chronic conditions do not typically need emergency care. Yet sometimes they cannot wait for a private doctor’s office appointment. An urgent care facility provides a place where patients can be treated for chronic conditions quickly and at a reasonable price.
Baby boomers aren’t the only ones in need of regular medical care that doesn’t merit a trip to the emergency room. Low back pain, for example, is one example of a serious problem that many people need help with. Close to 70% of people in the United States are affected by pain in their lower back that interrupts daily activities. Yet 40% of people who have long-term pain in her lower back are not visiting a doctor or physical therapist.
Why is that? At least part of the reason is the difficulty and inconvenience of scheduling a private doctor’s appointment or the expense and loss of time in visiting an emergency room doctor. An urgent care facility allows those suffering from difficult conditions like lower back pain to get the help they need.
We Need to Minimize Costs
There is no denying that America’s healthcare costs are high and show no signs of declining. There are many complicated reasons for the situation, yet one of the reasons is the overuse of emergency rooms. When emergency rooms have to deal with an enormous influx of colds, UTIs, sprained ankles, and other urgent but not emergency medical situations, it taxes the system and increases costs for everyone.
At the same time, local doctors are increasingly abandoning private practice for a number of reasons. While this is good news for the hospitals that take them, it can be bad news for those patients who need access to medical care outside of an emergency room situation. An urgent care facility provides a place to receive treatment from a physician while keeping out of the emergency rooms.
We Need Faster Care
Because of the way emergency rooms are tasked, they frequently cannot provide speedy care. This is because truly emergency care needs have to go first, leaving urgent needs to wait.
Recently, a boy at a major hospital emergency room in Maine was left waiting over nine hours after lacerating his foot. While the boy’s need was urgent, it was not life-threatening and thus could not take precedence over the suicides, trauma victims, and heart attacks coming in throughout the day. An urgent care facility is a place to get fast treatment for this kind of serious but not life-threatening need.
Urgent Care and the Future
According to the Urgent Care Association of America, approximately 3 million people will visit this type of medical clinic during the course of a week. Urgent care is now well-established as a reliable way of providing medical care. The goal for the future is to increase the number of people utilizing this valuable service and expand the ability of urgent care centers to deal with other types non-life-threatening medical needs.
For example, at this time four out of every five urgent care centers are able to provide care for bone fractures. Moving forward, it would be ideal to see all urgent care centers able to do so. Currently, 85% of urgent care centers are open seven days a week. Every community needs access to an urgent care center every day.
An urgent care facility is the right place to go when you or someone you love needs medical attention quickly for something that is not a life-threatening emergency. Make sure you know where your local urgent care facility is and how to get there so you’re ready if you ever need it.