Urgent care centers offer a variety of advanced medical services. Since about half of these facilities are owned and operated by a physician or group of physicians, patients are able to receive expert care. Given this, visiting an urgent care center, as opposed to a traditional hospital emergency room, is a more convenient and less expensive alternative.
The medical staff at urgent care facilities are able to diagnose and provide treatment for a wide range of health conditions and injuries. This includes diagnosing and treating fractures, providing intravenous fluids, treating sinus and ear infections, and testing for strep throat and other infections. Preventative care such as flu vaccinations are also available at these centers.
It’s also important to note that roughly 40% of these centers utilize current technologies. This includes, but is not limited to, the following types of systems:
- Electronic prescription ordering systems
- Computerized lab and imaging systems
- Patient data collection systems
- Medical condition and procedure coding systems
- Patient and insurance billing systems
- Clinical note maintenance systems
The time it takes to see an urgent care physician or physician’s assistant is considerably less than at a traditional hospital emergency room. Furthermore, 65% of these centers have an on-site physician available all of the time. The Urgent Care Association of America’s survey found that 57% of patients only needed to wait up to 15 minutes to be seen. The duration of a visit was roughly an hour or less at 80% of these facilities.
A large percentage of urgent care centers have extended hours. During the week, over 66% are open before 9:00 a.m. Most, or 90.6% of these centers, will see patients until 7:00 p.m. or later. Two-out-of-five of these centers will stay open until 9:00 p.m. or even later. Some centers are also open over the weekend, with 45.7% being open on Saturdays, and 31.1% being open on Sundays.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that many of the adults seeking care at the hospital emergency room weren’t ill enough to be admitted. This applied to 48%, which is nearly half of all adult emergency room visits. Furthermore, these individuals visited the hospital emergency room because their primary care physicians weren’t available as their offices were closed for the day.
When you or someone in your family becomes ill or injured after your primary care physician’s normal business hours, consider visiting an urgent care location near you. Since these centers provide excellent care, have less waiting time, and cost less than a hospital emergency room visit, they are a welcome alternative. When a medical issue is life-threatening, however, it’s important to be transported to your nearest hospital as soon as possible.