Urgent care provides a new model of medical care, combining accessibility and affordability. Walk in clinics that will treat most non-life-threatening conditions are an increasingly popular choice for primary healthcare needs, replacing the overburdened doctor’s office and the emergency room which were used for this purpose earlier. Many facilities now combine emergency medical and urgent services for a healthcare delivery model that is both practical and cost-efficient.
A new model of primary healthcare
The number of urgent care clinics around the country is increasing, and about fifty to a hundred new ones are added each year. At present, there are around 9,300 walk in urgent care clinics in the U.S. The number of of physicians practicing urgent care medicine is currently 20,000 and growing,
The expansion of a new primary care model means greater accessibility. It’s easier to find walk in urgent care to treat simple ailments and injuries like the flu, fevers, sore throats and cuts and wounds.
One significant problem that will need to be addressed in relation to the increasing popularity of urgent care is the likely shortfall of doctors. Fewer students in medical schools are choosing family medicine as a speciality. The The Association of American Medical Colleges projects a shortfall of over 90,000 physicians by 2020 and 130,000 physicians by 2025.
Facilities that combine emergency medical and urgent services
Combining emergency medical and urgent services at the same facility gives both patients and practitioners the flexibility to make the right choices for treatment. Non-emergency and non-life-threatening conditions can be referred to urgent care, where patients will receive skillful convenient and affordable care.
A well as convenience, this represents a huge saving in healthcare costs as well. An urgent care case treated in a hospital emergency room has an average cost of $2,039, compared to a cost of around $226 to treat the same case in urgent care.
Comparing emergency medical and urgent services
When comparing emergency medical and urgent services, the latter have many advantages when it comes to treating non-emergency conditions. First, the costs are much lower, since the average cost of an urgent care visit is around $103 per patient. The average cost per visit for a hospital emergency room is almost three times as much, at $302 on average.
Emergency rooms are notoriously busy and overcrowded, and a visit can mean hours of waiting, often in very stressful conditions. Walk in urgent care centers typically have very short waiting times to see a qualified physician. The majority, or 60%, report waiting times of less than 15 minutes.
The accessibility of urgent care centers is another advantage over the traditional doctors office, where an appointment might mean having to miss work or school or both. Walk in clinics have extended and weekend hours which make it convenient to plan a visit without missing work.
Emergency medical and urgent services serve quite different purposes in the healthcare system. Combining both in the same facility gives both patients and practitioners a high degree of flexibility in choosing the right treatment,