There used to be a time when people who needed medical care after hours or on the weekend had only one choice to get that care. They had to go to the hospital emergency room. In the 1970s, a few emergency room doctors got together and created urgent care and clinics to help people who needed care urgently and could not wait for their doctor’s office to open.
The News Tribuneandnbsp;took an in depth look at the rise of urgent care centers. Since the 1970s, these kinds of clinics have sprung up all over the country. There are now thousands of these clinics all over the country. More and more are opening every year to meet the growing demand for medical care that costs less than what you get at the emergency room. No matter how you look at it, urgent care and; clinics are here to stay.
One reason for this increase has been the increased demand for care. In rural areas especially, hospitals are closing all over. Now hospitals are investing in this kind of care and more and more insurance carriers are embracing it. They are encouraging an increasing number of patients to seek out their health treatment there when they have problems such as a fever, headaches, lacerations, stomach pain or itchy eyes, to name a few of the conditions that may make people want care immediately but are not medical emergencies that would result in a hospital stay.
Here are some more facts about urgent care and clinics:
- It is hard to say how many there are because state regulators are not keeping an accurate count and because there are centers popping up all of the time. In many parts of the country began in the 1990s. When people are looking for a clinic, they should contact their insurance provider to get one that is close by and that takes their plan.
- A visit to urgent care and clinics takes a lot less time. For many people who go to these centers for medical care, the wait to be seen by a medical professional is often only about 15 minutes. That is the case for at least 60% of the urgent care and clinics. For the vast percentage of patients who receive care at these clinics, the entire visit takes less than an hour. If you show up at an urgent care center and after the medical professionals there have had a chance to evaluate your condition and they determine you need to be treated at the hospital, they will call and ambulance and get you taken care of.
- Urgent care clinics can tell if a patient needs to be seen in the emergency room. There are times when people really do need to get their treatment at an emergency room. Conditions that really require this kind of treatment are any that may result in a stay in the hospital. Examples of these include serious chest pain, head injuries, bleeding that cannot be stopped, a shooting or stabbing injuries or serious fractures.
- Another benefit of receiving your treatment at an urgent care center is that you have several ways to get in. All urgent care and clinics have websites that let patients make their appointments online. If you know you want to be seen by a medical professional during your lunch hour or before work (but do not want to be late to your job), you can make an appointment. At the same time, if you cannot make an appointment, you can get in on a walk in basis. Whichever is easier for you, you can do.
- Your treatment at an urgent care center will cost a lot less. It has been said that the average health insurance payment for a visit in the emergency room is about $302. The typical visit to urgent care and clinics is about $103. Health insurance companies offer lower copayments for visits to these clinics than to emergency rooms.
When you are sick or injured and you cannot wait to get your treatment until your doctor’s office opens, urgent care and clinics offer you another way to get what you need when you want it. These clinics have really made a big difference in health care delivery.