The number of urgent care clinics is growing rapidly around the country. That’s because they serve an important need in the healthcare system, for affordable and accessible medical care for common problems like fever, lacerations, and other minor injuries and illnesses. Many 24 hour walk in clinic locations now offer an innovative new model of convenient care, with urgent care and emergency services at the same site. This allows patients and their families to choose the appropriate treatment.
Why choose urgent care?
The number of urgent care clinics is growing rapidly nationwide. The 2016 Benchmark Report from the Urgent Care Association of America reported that the number increased from 6,707 in 2015 to 7,357 in just one year. In 2015, urgent care centers saw an average of almost 12,000 patients. That works out to 32 patient visits every day, or three every hour. The popularity of these walk-in clinics is due to their convenience and accessibility.
Patients don’t need to make appointments in advance, and they don’t have to wait a long time to see a doctor. The Urgent Care Association of America’s 2016 Benchmarking Report reported that in the vast majority or 92% of urgent care centers, wait times were 30 minutes or less as of 2015. This gives patients an alternative to rushing to the emergency room for even minor illnesses. It also means that they don’t have to wait for weeks for a doctor’s appointment, for conditions like abdominal pains or breathing difficulties.
Urgent care or emergency care?
Choosing the urgent care option also means that the treatment costs less. In fact, most of the cases that are brought to emergency services could have been treated more quickly and at lower costs in urgent care. It is estimated that 44% to 65% of all visits to emergency services could have been better directed to urgent care. Some of the commonest conditions brought to urgent care centers in 2015 were acute upper respiratory infection, acute sinusitis, acute pharyngitis, cough, and acute bronchitis, according to the Urgent Care Association of America’s 2016 Benchmarking Report.
Of course, some conditions and illnesses must be taken to the emergency room. Chest pains, serious breathing problems and major traumas like gunshot wounds should be taken to the ER or an ambulance should be called. However, a study published in Becker’s Hospital Review reported that only 3% of all patients who came to an urgent care clinic needed to diverted to emergency services.
What is the hybrid model of convenient care?
More than one out of four, or 27% of all patients in the U.S. reported that they had visited a 24 hour walk in clinic location within the past two years. This is evidence of the success of this model of healthcare. Now some 24 hour walk in clinic locations are taking the idea of convenient care one step further by siting emergency care and urgent care services at the same location.
This hybrid model gives patients the convenience of choosing the right treatment option. It can treat and bill for The hybrid model for both urgent care and emergency treatment. With over 70% of all ER visits currently being for non-emergency or preventable conditions, sending these cases to urgent care will reduce the pressure on emergency services. It will also provide the necessary medical treatment at a lower cost than in the ER. Convenient care with both emergency and 24 hour walk in clinic locations can handle all kinds of medical needs.
Convenient care combines 24 hour walk in clinic locations with emergency services to give patients the appropriate treatment. The convenience and accessibility of the urgent care model of healthcare has led to an increase in the number of urgent care centers around the country. The hybrid model takes this one step further, providing complete medical treatment options at one location.