What are the benefits of urgent care? Urgent care facilities are popping up all over the United States and an estimated 160 million urgent care visits take place every year. Despite this, some experts estimate that as many as 44% to 65% of all visits to the emergency room could actually have been better treated at the closest urgent care location. Meanwhile, only 3% of the people who come to a walk in clinic end up having to be referred on to an emergency room. There are many benefits of urgent care, and here are just a few.
- They free up hospital emergency rooms. American hospital emergency rooms are sometimes overrun with patients who don’t need the specialized services that a hospital can provide. Some end up there because they can’t get to a doctor’s office during business hours, or because they need immediate medical attention for something that is not life-threatening. Choosing the treatments and services available at an urgent care clinic whenever you have a medical need that isn’t life-threatening is a great way to free up hospitals to do what they do best: save lives under the immediate threat of death.
- Urgent care facilities can provide quality care quickly and without the need to make an appointment. Another of the benefits of urgent care is the shorter waiting times compared with emergency rooms, combined with the convenience of simply walking in. The average urgent care wait time in 2015 was 30 minutes or less. Many are open after hours and equipped with advanced technology to give effective treatment for a variety of issues. The Urgent Care Association of America did a report in 2016 and found that urgent care centers were most commonly treating people for acute upper respiratory infection, acute bronchitis, acute sinusitis, cough, and acute pharyngitis.
- Urgent care facilities are cost-effective. The cost of seeing an urgent care center is about the same as seeing your primary doctor and much less than a visit to the emergency room. Charges will vary according to your insurance coverage and specific need, but a trip to the emergency room for the same issue is bound to cost a lot more. Most major insurance providers are accepted at urgent care facilities.
- Urgent care facilities can provide preventative care, wellness checks, and medical service for chronic conditions. Whether you need treatment for an asthma attack, need a flu shot or vaccines before traveling, need private testing for an STD, or have to get a regularly scheduled wellness check, it’s likely you can get it done at your local urgent care center.
Never mistake your urgent care clinic for an emergency room, and if a medical need is life-threatening be sure to go to the nearest emergency room. For all other medical needs, however, the benefits of urgent care are clear.