If you need immediate care for an injury or illness, a family walk in clinic or immediate care center is an option you should consider. These facilities provide medical tests, pediatric care, and urgent care, and bridge the gap between the nine-to-five doctor?s office and the busy emergency room at the hospital.
Emergency rooms are not the place you want to go unless there is a genuine emergency. For colds and flu, an std test, or minor accidents, the wait can be very long. A lot of Americans come down the flu every year–about 5-20% of the population depending on the year–and one billion of us get colds. Children alone usually get between six and ten colds in a year.
A lot of these people end up seeking immediate care at emergency room, which often cannot handle the volume of people seeking medical help. There are now about 110 million ER visits every year, and a 2010 study found that nearly one in five visits to the ER could have easily been treated at an urgent care facility instead. Not only would those patients have been seen faster, but they would have spent less money.
The Rand Corporation estimates that we could easily save $4.4 billion in annual medical care if more people sought immediate care at urgent care centers instead of the ER. The average visit to the emergency room racks up a bill of close to $1,500; but urgent care center costs average more like $150. And urgent care is faster, too: a recent survey showed that 57% of urgent care patients waited 15 minutes or less, and 80% were seen within an hour.
A lot of people visit the emergency room only because their doctor?s office is closed after-hours. Primary care doctors don?t tend to like after-hours work: only 29% of them offer after-hours care. In fact, a CDC study showed that 48% of sick adult ER patients only went there because their own doctor?s office was closed.
Urgent care centers are open after-hours and can provide an easier, cheaper, and faster way to get medical help for people who aren?t having a serious emergency. This includes pediatric health care, which many urgent care centers are able to provide.
If you?re in need of immediate care but don?t feel it?s an emergency situation, consider urgent care centers near you that might be able to provide good, fast care at a reasonable price.