New ER and Urgent Care Options
Traditionally, emergency rooms have been the only option for those needing immediate medical care, or for those that simply can not wait the time needed to get an appointment with their primary physicians. In more recent years, urgent care centers have lightened the load by taking patients that needed urgent or after hours care but either do not need emergency room care or they aren?t sure if they need emergency room care.
ER and urgent care provide patients with medical care on short notice. There are roughly 110 million emergency room visits each year in the United States alone. There are over 9,000 stand-alone urgent care facilities currently with 50 ? 100 new facilities opening every year. This does not include urgent care centers in hospital settings or emergency clinic hours within doctor’s offices.
There are over 20,000 physicians that focus on urgent care medicine, and it is seen as one of the fastest growing specialties in the medical field. The majority of urgent care centers offer a wait time of less than 15 and have full-time physicians on staff.
Despite the convenience, urgent care centers cannot test for and treat all potential problems. They are limited by their size and resources being stand-alone facilities. If a patient comes in needing a test or treatment, the urgent care cannot provide, they may still end up going to the emergency room.
Additionally, for many trying to decide whether they should go to an urgent care or an emergency room can feel complicated. They don’t want to waste time or resources making the wrong decision. There are also issues related to insurance and follow-up appointments that can make the whole ordeal feel complicated to the average person.
Many people, who may need medical care avoid it because they don’t want to deal with the hassle. That is why some facilities are moving to a single facility that offers both er and urgent care. This takes the guess work out of where to go for perspective patients. It also eliminates the need for leaving one to go to another. If a patient checks in at urgent care and it becomes apparent that more services are needed, the patient can be transferred over to emergency care easily.
A combined facility provides better access to physicians and specialist, better access to tests and health screenings, and better access to needed treatment. Urgent care visits are considerably less expensive than emergency room visits, which is one of the many reasons, an individual may choose an urgent care over an ER. However, again, a combined facility would alleviate that concern offering both er and urgent care in one place.
Walk-in urgent care typically offers less of a wait time as well. This benefit will not be lost going to a combined facility.