Demand For Urgent Care Set To Grow
Although statistics are difficult to obtain, there are between 6,500 and 10,000 urgent care walk in facilities in the United States and this figure is likely to grow as demand increases. A report by Harris Williams and Co. stated that the urgent care industry will increase 5.8 percent annually through 2018 to just under $19 billion. Urgent care medicine is practiced by about 20,000 doctors in the U.S. and, according to the Urgent Care Association of America, they are visited by about three million patients per week. Most (85%) of such walk in centers are open seven days a week.
As emergency care center and primary healthcare providers have buckled under demand and waiting times have lengthened, uptake in urgent care has increased. In 2012, upper respiratory conditions were the most common diagnosis and wound repair was the most common procedure performed at urgent care clinics. Four-fifths of urgent care centers offer fracture care, which is vital considering that 25,000 Americans sprain their ankle every day, usually as a result of inward rolling (or inversion) of the ankle. According to a study on ankle fractures, there are about 187 ankle fractures per 100,000 people each year in the United States.
Another common complaint that may see the need for urgent care access is dizziness, which will afflict about 70% of the population at least once in their lives. Those over the age of 60 are more likely to experience loss of balance or dizziness, many on a daily basis. One study found that as many as 90 million people seek medical care because of vertigo or dizziness every year. In the elderly dizziness can result in a fall, which can be debilitating and may even prove fatal, as falls account for half of accidental deaths in the 60 plus age group.
With the demand for quality medical care only set to increase — 60% of Baby Boomers will be managing a chronic illness by 2030, according to recent research — urgent care centers will increasingly be turned to as a viable alternative to already stretched emergency and primary care providers.