Broken bones. Lacerations. Influenza. Bronchitis. Strep throat. High blood pressure. High cholesterol. Diabetes. Sugar issues. Wounds. Gouges. Headaches. Migraines. Unnatural bowel movements. Vomiting. Ankle sprains. Dizziness. These are some of the conditions that can be treated at a new type of health facility: the urgent care center.
The urgent care center movement initially started in the 1970s in the United States, but it started to gain steam during the next couple decades, before growing significantly in the past decade or so. It has also grown in to a movement around the world, from countries across the globe.
Urgent care centers have grown in popularity in the United States steadily over the past decade, to the point now that three million patients in the United States visit an urgent care center weekly. There are 20,000 physicians trained in urgent care medicine and more are being trained each year. There are 6,800 urgent care center locations in the United States.
Urgent care centers treat many illnesses. All those above in the list and then more. They are an opportunity for patients to receive a higher level of care than primary care physician offices and with the sophisticated equipment that is seen in a hospital. They are considered a bridge in the continuum of care between the two.
Urgent care centers share some characteristics with primary care physicians. Primary care physicians are open during the standard business hours, they see people by appointment, they treat people in a one on one situation, and they can diagnose and treat many illnesses at a lowered rate than most medical establishments.
Urgent care centers have many advantages over the primary care physician office. For instance, they see people on a walk-in basis, which lends itself well to treat immediate cases that are not life threatening. They have low copays, though not as low as a primary care physician office. And they treat a wider variety of illnesses and ailments.
This last part is due to the ability to take x-rays, and sometimes CAT and MRI scans.
Urgent care centers also share some of the same characteristics as emergency rooms. Emergency rooms generally are considered to have the best kind of care in the location that they are set in. They have the best imaging equipment, the best doctors, the most total care. They are the best when it comes to treating and diagnosing.
Emergency rooms, however, are expensive. A typical bill at an emergency room will run up to $1,500, while the typical bill at an urgent care center will run up to $150. That is a significant difference. Emergency rooms have the best care but they are expensive. Urgent care centers have a good amount of care and are much less expensive.
Studies have shown that 48% of people who went to the emergency room went there because they had an immediate problem and their primary care physician’s office was closed. Other studies have shown that the majority of people who go to emergency rooms could have been treated in a less intensive healthcare setting.
Urgent care, then, has the advantage in many cases over emergency rooms when it comes to cost and the advantage over the emergency room to treat cases that are not life threatening in a setting that is one on one and less intensive than a hospital. It also has advantages over the primary care office.
The primary care office is not open at all times, whereas the urgent care center is open a little bit later and a little bit earlier, sometimes from 7am to 8pm. And the urgent care center can see patients on a walk-in basis, with no need to make an appointment, making it a good option for urgent or immediate problems.
Finding an urgent care near me for a patient is as easy as plugging the phrase ‘urgent care near me’ into a Google, Bing, or Yahoo search engine. That phrase, ‘urgent care near me,’ should pull up all the urgent care centers in the geographical area. The phrase ‘urgent care near me’ can also be used in mobile search engines like Safari.
Urgent care centers are great for immediate problems and can help immensely. A patient there can receive good treatment on a walk-in basis, at a lower cost than emergency rooms.