Know Your Options When It Comes to Your Healthcare
Are you looking for convenient medical treatment that’s near you, not terribly expensive, and that can do everything from check out itchy eyes or sore throats to having facilities with imaging and labs? If so, look no further than urgent care. Urgent care allows you to skip the wait at often overcrowded emergency rooms, avoid the huge bill that usually accompanies those types of visits, and you still receive quality care. How about that? Urgent care can treat minor injuries and illnesses, give you timely primary medical care, and give you skillful, convenient, and affordable care. What’s not to love about urgent care? Additionally, some facilities have now joined an urgent care center and an emergency room together under one roof, so that patients don’t have to choose. This hybrid model of care will see and bill patients for whatever services they need, whether they’re in urgent care or the emergency room.
What are Urgent Care Numbers Like?
There are around 20,000 physicians who are with urgent care medicine today and that number is only increasing. These professionals have turned urgent care medicine into a well known specialty that represents an ever-growing field in medicine. There are over 9.300 urgent care centers that take walk-ins and aren’t affiliated with a hospital or other medical center in the United States and between 50-100 new centers open yearly.
Urgent care centers saw almost 350 people on average every week in 2011, reports the Urgent Care Association of America and saw almost 30 new patients every month on average.
What’s to Like About Urgent Care Centers?
For one thing, urgent care centers can often do many of the same things that patients visit an emergency room for — at a fraction of the cost. For example, a case that went to the emergency room (that could have been treated in urgent care) was over $2,000, versus the cost of an urgent care visit, which was a little over $200. The wait time is also significantly less — around 60% of all urgent care centers can boast a wait time of 15 minutes or less to see a physician, compared to often waiting hours at emergency rooms. Talk about convenient medical treatment that’s time-efficient! Around 65% of urgent care centers have a physician in the center at all times.
And, like emergency rooms, most urgent care centers are open seven days a week and provide convenient medical treatment, often working with extended hours. They have at least seven exam or treatment rooms available and doctors often see between 4-5 patients an hour, says the American Academy of Urgent Care Medicine. A private study by Milliman reports that between 44-65% of emergency room visits could have gone to an urgent care center instead. Additionally, a 2009 RAND Corp. study said that as many as 27% emergency room visits could be done by urgent care or retail clinics, which could save over $4 billion a year in health costs!
Why are These Numbers Important?
With the graying of America, it’s likely that we’ll have a much higher need for doctors, emergency rooms, urgent center cares, and everything in between. Indeed, the Association of American Medical Colleges predicts that we’ll be short over 90,000 physicians by 2020 and 130,000 physicians by 2025. Visits to the emergency room have already increased over 20% in the last ten years — and American rely on the 24 hour service provided by emergency rooms, something that urgent care centers are now helping with as well. Even more worrisome, over two dozen rural hospitals have shut down since 2013 and that number is probably growing nationwide.
If urgent care centers can take the place of these hospitals and provide much-needed medical treatment to areas that need it most that would be a huge help. Additionally, if people know they can get convenient medical treatment at an urgent care center, they may go there instead of the emergency room, for smaller issues, which will take a great deal of the burden off already overloaded ER’s.
Knowing your options when it comes to healthcare is a good thing. Start using urgent care centers around your neighborhood and local area!