Urgent Care Clinics Provide Convenient Medical Treatment at a Fraction of the Cost

Skillful convenient and affordable care

When individuals experience severe health problems, they tend to visit the hospital emergency room. This is particularly the case when these issues arise after-hours or when their primary care physician is unavailable. While it does depend on the severity of the issue, many health problems can be treated by emergency-trained doctors that work in urgent care facilities.

These facilities, 50% of which are owned by a group of physicians or a single physician, can provide a variety of treatments and services. It’s important to note that these include advanced diagnostic and laboratory services. The staff physicians and mid-level providers know how to treat headaches, shortness of breath, and minor injuries and illnesses.

There is also less waiting time at an urgent care center. For 60% of these facilities, this tends to be less than 15 minutes. Furthermore, 65% of walk-in urgent care facilities always have an on-site physician.

The American academy of Urgent Care Medicine reports that the average patient-per-hour ratio at a walk-in urgent care facility is 4.5 patients every hour. This does depend, however, on the severity or acuity of each patient’s condition.

As of 2014, most of these facilities were open throughout the week for at least 4 hours a day. In some cases a walk-in urgent care clinic will be open for extended hours, which includes before 9:00 a.m. in the morning and after 7:00 p.m. in the evening. They also tend to have an average of 7 exam and/or treatment rooms so that patients don’t have to remain in the waiting area.

The costs associated with emergency room visits versus urgent care clinic visits differ as well. This is usually applicable when a case treated in an emergency room could have been treated at an urgent care clinic. When compared with the average hospital emergency room cost of $2,039.00 per visit, the average cost of having the same issue treated at an urgent care clinic would be approximately $226.00

When considering that many Americans rely on having the type of 24-hour access to care provided by traditional hospital emergency departments, there has been a substantial increase in these visits. Recent figures indicate that emergency room visits have increased 22% over the past 10 years. Current estimates point to 110 million emergency room visits every year.

Truven Health Analytics reported that over 70% of emergency room visits could be avoided and/or addressed by basic outpatient care. Their report focused on patients with consumer-sponsored insurance plans, so it is possible that having this coverage contributed to their decision to seek assistance in an emergency room.

A private study on this issues was also conducted by Millman. The results of this study found that roughly 44% to 65% of all emergency room visits could have been treated at an urgent care facility rather than in a traditional hospital emergency room.

Given that convenient, affordable, and expert care can be provided at walk-in urgent care clinics, it’s important that more Americans are made aware of this alternative. When heart attacks, strokes, or other severe life-threatening conditions arise, the hospital emergency room is an appropriate destination.

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