Why Urgent Care Centers Are Important
For a number of years, continuum of care within the medical profession consisted of primary care physicians, specialists, and hospitals. Often, to seek immediate medical attention, a hospital was the main stop, as some primary care physicians and specialists required wait time for an appointment.
With the rise of urgent care centers, the continuum of care and ability for patients to seek immediate treatment has improved. Urgent care centers take in patients on that day, and for a variety of ailments. This bypasses the waiting time for primary care physicians and specialists, while providing a more affordable option than an emergency room in a hospital.
According to a study conducted by Milliman, approximately 44-65% of all emergency room cases could have been treated in an urgent care setting. The financial implications of this type of treatment are enormous. An urgent care case that was treated in a hospital emergency room costs an average of $2,000, while that same case treated in an urgent care facility would have cost around $200.
This saves money not just for the institutions but for the patient as well. The Urgent Care Association of America issued a report stating that the average patient cost in urgent care was $103, while the average patient cost in an emergency room in a hospital was over $300. This makes urgent care valuable for patients and institutions.
Patients come to urgent care facilities for numerous illness and ailments. Some include flu treatment, minor burns or back pain, lacerations, itchy eyes, sore throats, and chest pain. Family urgent care is particularly important in treating families and children when it comes to viruses or the flu. Family urgent care can also treat minor physical injuries associated with children, such as a headache or stomach pain.
The urgent care center business, including family urgent care, has been growing over the past few years. There are approximately 9,300 urgent care centers in the United States and in-between 50 and 100 new centers open each year. It is a fast-growing medical field, with over 20,000 physicians currently practicing urgent care medicine.
And part of their value lies in the accessibility of the physicians and the urgent care centers. With an average of seven examination rooms, urgent care centers are generally open seven days a week and are open at least four hours each day.
While it is always important to err on the side of caution with health, urgent care centers and family urgent care offer an important option for those who don’t not feel the need to go to the emergency room but need an appointment that day, to avoid the wait time of a standalone practice.
It is also much less of a financial burden than going to an emergency room, for both the patient and the institutions involved. Because of that, urgent care centers are becoming more well-known and new centers are being open every year.