The landscape of American health care is always changing. The private doctors’ offices are slowly disappearing, and replacing a visit to the doctor’s office with one to the emergency room costs more, wastes time, and also wastes resources. To fill the gap for those who need medical treatment, the urgent care industry has been growing steadily over the last few years. Read on for some important facts about urgent care centers.
There are Plenty of Urgent Care Clinics to Choose From
There are currently at least 9,000 in the United States, and 85% of them are open seven days a week. Approximately three million patients visit America’s urgent care centers every week, according to the Urgent Care Association of America.
Urgent Care Can Be a Great Way to See a Doctor
Unlike with traditional doctor’s office visits, it’s not necessary to make an appointment to see a physician in an urgent care center. Seeing a doctor in a hospital emergency room can mean a very long wait and a huge expense; seeing a doctor at a private office involves changing your schedule to find openings in their appointments. Seeing a doctor at the urgent care clinic for medical treatments can be done faster and more conveniently. While not everyone at an urgent care center is a physician, there are 20,000 doctors working in urgent care today and more than 94% of urgent care clinics have a full-time doctor on staff.
Where are Urgent Care Centers Located?
They can be found everywhere, and particularly near bigger cities. About half of all centers are in buildings of their own, while another half are found in shopping centers. Over 60% of walk-in clinics have been operating for more than five years, and 40% have been open nine years or longer.
What Medical Treatments are Available at an Urgent Care Center?
The most common diagnosis at an urgent care clinic is for some kind of condition of the upper respiratory system. The most common procedure conducted at the clinics is wound repair. They are also great places to get medical treatments for urinary tract infections, a cold or flu, treatment for poison ivy, headaches, earaches, sprains and sports injuries, and most can also provide care for fractures.
How Many Emergency Room Visits Could Have Gone to Urgent Care?
The numbers will vary every year, but a 2010 study found that about 14% to 27% of visits to hospital emergency rooms could have been dealt with faster and less expensively at an urgent care clinic. In fact, had they been, the cost savings would have been nearly $4.5 billion.
How Quickly Will I Be Seen if I Visit Urgent Care?
Most people can get medical treatments at an urgent care facility very quickly. Current stats show that the average wait for nearly 70% of urgent care centers is 20 minutes or less. The average wait at most emergency rooms is at least twice as long.
Urgent care clinics are a growing feature of America’s healthcare landscape, and they are filling needs that traditional doctors offices and hospitals cannot cope with as conveniently, quickly, and cost-effectively. Make sure you know where the nearest urgent care center is for the next time you or your family have non-life threatening need for medical treatments.