It’s a scene that often plays out in countless emergency rooms: a patient with an immediate medical concern makes a late night trip to the emergency room only to wait and wait, watching minutes turn to hours as they wait for their name to be called and to be seen by an emergency room doctor.
While going to the ER can be a quick fix, those who go could be in for a long wait to see an emergency room doctor. The average time spent waiting in the ER increased from 46.5 minutes to 58.1 minutes from 2003 to 2009. Not only are visitors left in physical pain from long waits, they could be left feeling financial pain as well. According to the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, the average ER visitor pays anywhere from $615 to $1,318 per visit.
With the cost of ER visits on the rise and long wait times, urgent care facilities offer patients many options when it comes to finding a quicker and more cost-effective way to be treated. According to the Urgent Care Association of America, an estimated three million patients visit an urgent care facility each week. Currently there are 20,000 physicians practicing urgent care medicine.
Urgent care facilities are essentially a bridge between a walk-in health clinic and the emergency room and there are many benefits of urgent care facilities.
- Roughly 60 percent of all urgent care facilities have a wait time of less than 15 minutes to see a physician or mid-level provider. In addition, 65 percent have a physician on-site at all times.
- The Urgent Care Association of America reports that 57 percent of patients wait 15 minutes or less to be seen and about 80 percent of all visits are 60 minutes or less.
- More than 66 percent of urgent care centers open prior to 9 a.m. during the week and many within that grouping are also open on Saturday and Sunday.
- The majority of centers (90.6 percent) remain open until 7 p.m. or later on weeknights and two out of five are open until 9 p.m. or later.
- Seven in ten urgent care centers can provide IV fluids when needed.
- About 40 percent of urgent care centers use electronic prescription ordering systems and many of them use computerized systems to collect patient data, clinical notes and billing information.
- A physician or a group of physicians owns about 50 percent of urgent care centers, which gives that person or group of people a vested interested in having the facility run to the best of its ability.
If you’re in need of a trip to the doctor, consider for a moment that:
- Dizziness is the second most common complaint heard in doctor’s offices and it occurs in 70 percent of the American population.
- Sixty five percent of people older than 60 experience dizziness or loss of balance, sometimes daily.
- At least 40 percent of those suffering from chronic low-back pain don’t see a doctor or physical therapist.
- Up to 69 percent of Americans say low back pain affects them on a daily basis.
An urgent care facility can help treat all of these ailments that constantly plague Americans. The list of symptoms that can be treated at an urgent care is growing with facilities able to treat sports injuries, muscle strain and sprains, asthma, ear infections, dizziness and many other ailments.
Urgent care centers can also help patients with confidential STD testing. Sexually active patients are more at risk for contracting STDs and rather than going to a specialty clinic, urgent care centers offer an alternative option for confidential STD testing.
The stats on STDs are shocking and millions of people contract STDs every year. Urgent care centers multiple types of confidential STD testing including testing for HIV (both early detection and antibody tests) and STD testing kits. Visiting an urgent care center for confidential STD testing can save you a potentially embarrassing trip for a very serious medical issue and allows you some privacy as well.
Emergency room doctors play an important role in providing patients with vital care, often in life threatening situations. Urgent care facilities can offer less wait time and help for anyone who comes in. To find an urgent care doctor in your area, visit UrgentCareCenter.org.