Urgent care. It is a term that is synonymous with the kind of care that many Americans and people all around the world seek on a daily basis. It treats numerous conditions, such as broken bones, influenza, sprained ankles, bronchitis, strep throat, sore throat, lacerations, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and more.
There is little doubt that urgent care centers are growing in today’s world. An estimated 3 million patients visit urgent care centers each week, according to the Urgent Care Association of America. There are currently 20,000 physicians who practice Urgent Care medicine today. And this is due to several issues.
Americans have long had the issue, in some locales, in some places, where they have had a pressing medical issue but have been unable to see their primary care physician. They have had a serious case of influenza, a really high temperature, a broken bone, a sprained ankle, anything that required immediate assistance.
They tried calling their doctor but their doctor could not see them that particular day. They would have to make an appointment for the next day or the day after to get in to see him or her. That would be a challenge given the patient’s current state and condition. Then the only choice would be a health effective but financially damaging one: the ER.
Emergency room visits have increased steadily in the past two decades, stemmed in large part by individuals inability to see their primary care physician when dealing with urgent or immediate health issues. The emergency room has perhaps the best treatment available in an area. It is has the best equipment and the best doctors. But the price tag.
Emergency rooms have long been studied and the studies have concluded that most people who go to an emergency room could have been treated in a less intensive setting. But the people who go to the emergency sometimes, at least for a decades, have had little choice. And immediate problem is immediate, and they needed to see a doctor.
Slowly, since the 1970s, urgent care centers have grown to become that bridge for patients who need to see a doctor quickly, can’t see their primary care physician because it’s after hours or they can’t make an appointment, and don’t want to go to the emergency room. It occupies a place between the two, taking from both, that serves millions of people.
An urgent care treats many conditions, including the ones listed with statistics here:
- About 85% of Americas are allergic to poison ivy
- Cold symptoms often last from 48 hours to 14 days. The average person makes a full recovery within 10 days.
- On average, between 5% and 20% of Americans come down with the flu each year.
- Reports estimate that 25,000 Americans suffer a sprained ankle each day.
- Every year, Americans gets 1 billion colds.
Urgent care centers represent that bridge for patients who have immediate needs but can’t see a primary care physician and don’t want to go to the emergency room. Urgent care centers are equipped somewhat like emergency rooms. Many have specialized imaging equipment, such as x-ray machines and CAT machines.
Many have a physician on-site at all times, with many having a mid-level provider as well. Many urgent care centers are open 12 hours during the day, from 8am to 8pm, with some providing 24 hour urgent care and others being open a little earlier like 7am. And the patients are able to walk in and be seen, rather than make an appointment.
Urgent care centers are also much less costly than emergency rooms. An emergency room bill may run into the thousands, while urgent care center bills will run into the low hundreds, and that’s if the patient doesn’t have insurance. This compares to the primary care bill which is about a hundred dollars without insurance and much less with a copay.
There are many words for urgent care clinics including walk in clinic, walk in urgent care, urgent care clinics, urgent care treatment, walk-in medical care clinic, and medical care clinic. It is also called very simply urgent care and is known by that name. There are many benefits for people to try urgent care. It is effective.
For the three million patients each week who try it, it has benefit.
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