When it comes to severe health problems, most people immediately think of taking a trip to the emergency room. And in truly life threatening situations, the emergency services should absolutely be sought out as quickly as possible. However, even in the case of severe health problems, an urgent care center can be a viable treatment alternative.
In recent years, the popularity of walk in clinics has grown. Urgent care centers across the country now employ around 20,000 doctors, and at least 3 million patients visit a walk in clinic every single week in the United States. Up to one hundred urgent care centers open every year in the United States, and there are currently over 9,000 facilities today. There are several benefits to seeking treatment at an urgent care center as opposed to an emergency room. First, urgent care centers typically have a much shorter waiting period than an emergency room, where patients can sometimes wait for hours before being seen by a medical professional. In fact, the average urgent care facility only has an average wait time of around fifteen minutes. Urgent care facilities are also considerably cheaper than an emergency room visit, costing as low as $100 per visit. For an emergency room visit that cost over $2,000, a patient treated for the same thing in an urgent care center would pay only slightly over $200. Urgent care centers are also open more often than a traditional doctors office, with 85% open all seven days of the week. For busy people who cannot take of work, going to an urgent care is often far more feasible than scheduling an appointment with a general practitioner or private practice.
Urgent care clinics can also treat severe health problems, even though most think of them only in cases of minor injury or illness. An astounding four out of every five urgent care center had the means to treat and diagnose fracture patients, and many have advanced medical tools like x-rays to diagnose their patients. The majority of cases that are seen in the emergency room could actually have been successfully treated in an urgent care center, up to 65%. Aside from severe health problems, urgent care centers can also treat minor injuries and illnesses. They treat a lot of sprained ankles and have diagnostic test for common ailments like the flu and UTIs.
An urgent care facility can provide access to medical care that would not otherwise exist outside of an emergency room. For people who aren\’t able to take off work or who do not have insurance, urgent care facilities can provide medical treatment that is both cost and time effective, as well as high quality. From imaging and labs for diagnostic tests to prescriptions for antibiotics, urgent care centers provide most, if not all, things that a typical doctors office would, and many of the benefits of going to an emergency room can also be found in a walk in clinic.