Emergency medical and urgent services provide a convenient, quality, and cost-effective alternative to traditional hospital emergency room services. These facilities can provide care for the entire family, which includes infants and the elderly. Emergency medical and urgent services also tend to have advanced diagnostic and laboratory services, which is an added benefit.
Unnecessary Emergency Room Visits Are on the Rise
Emergency room visits, however, continue to be made for issues that are not life-threatening. Over the past 10 years, for example, there has been a 22% increase. While Americans do tend to rely on having access to care on a 24-hour basis, when they learn more about the available services at an urgent care facility, they may begin to change this pattern of behavior.
Roughly 44% to 65% of all emergency room visits could have been handled in an emergency medical and urgent services setting, according to a private study conducted by Milliman. Furthermore, a Truven Health Analytics report indicated that over 70% of patients that possessed consumer-sponsored insurance coverage visited hospital emergency rooms for non-emergency conditions. The report also showed that many of these conditions could have been preventable if these individuals had sought prior, basic outpatient care.
Urgent Care: A Growing Specialty
Currently, there are around 20,000 physicians that practice Urgent Care Medicine. This rapidly-growing field is acknowledged as an important specialty. Half of all urgent care centers are owned by 1 or more physicians, and there are an average of 7 exam and/or treatment rooms at each of these centers.
During 2011, the Urgent Care Association of America reported that the average urgent care center provided assistance to 342 patients every week. There were also an additional 28 patients that were seen per month, on average.
In 2014, 97% of the urgent care centers were open throughout the entire week, which includes Saturday and Sunday. Most of the centers, or 99%, were open for at least 4 hours a day.
Since 65% of urgent care facilities always have an on-site physician, prospective patients will receive the best care possible. Furthermore, 60% of these physicians or mid-level providers will see their patients in less than 15 minutes.
The American Academy of Urgent Care Medicine reports that physicians will usually see 4.5 patients per hour. This will, however, depend on the presenting issues for each patient. When an individual is experiencing severe health problems, for instance, they will be able to receive additional time with the appropriate medical personnel.
Treatment Needs and Urgent Care Facilities
Individuals can receive skillful, convenient, and affordable care for these and other urgent medical needs at a walk-in facility:
- Abdominal pain
- Back pain
- Chest pain
- Minor burns
- Shortness of breath
- The flu
In addition to receiving treatment for the above with less waiting time, it will also cost considerably less than a hospital emergency room visit. When a typical urgent-care case is treated in a hospital emergency room, it can cost an average of $2,039.00. However, when this same case is treated at an urgent care facility, the cost will average $226.00.
Urgent care facilities are able to meet the rising demand of patients that would normally turn to hospital emergency rooms. When a medical issue or condition isn’t severe enough to warrant a hospital visit, an urgent care facility can effectively address their needs.