When it’s 7 p.m. and you realize you have a urinary tract infection or you put a pretty serious gash in your finger while working in the yard on a Sunday afternoon, an urgent care might be just what you or your family needs. Emergency rooms are far more costly and quite frankly need to save those beds and resources for life threatening and serious injuries. You’ve seen those T.V. hospital dramas. What they don’t feature are the types of cases that seem to populate most ERs — those that actually do not require the specialization of a hospital emergency room.
But most primary care physicians are not open after hours and on weekends for these less dramatic health care needs, so what’s to be done? Fortunately, the best in urgent care services are able to meet these needs efficiently and for a cost much less than a hospital ER. For instance, the same health issue treated for $226 at an urgent care might cost upwards of $2,000 at an ER.
What are Some Examples of Medical Issues Easily Handled by Urgent Care?
- minor burns
- stomach pain
- sore throat
And the list isn’t just limited to aches and pains. Several studies indicate the over reliance on the ER. A private study by Milliman revealed that about 44-65% of all ER episodes could have been treated in urgent care clinic settings. Another study by Truven Health Analytics showed that more than 70% of ER visits by those covered with consumer insurance were for non emergency needs that could have been easily met with the best in urgent care services.
Who Can I Expect to See at an Urgent Care?
Presently the best in urgent care services are staffed by 20,000 physicians who practice Urgent Care Medicine and that number continues to grow. In fact, urgent care is now a recognized specialty. More than 50% of urgent care facilities are owned by a physician or a group of physicians, with 65 percent having a physician on site at all times of operation.
How Long Will I Likely Wait to See a Physician?
Average wait times of 15 or fewer minutes to see a physician or mid-level provider can be expected at about 60 percent of all urgent care centers. Wait times in the ER for non life threatening medical issues can be long, because doctors are handling more serious cases as they arrive. At an urgent care, wait times might bear little difference to the wait time at your primary care provider.
What Kind of Care Can I Expect?
You can expect the same care you would receive at an ER but at a significantly reduced cost and with less wait. It’s similar to the care you would get at your primary care provider but on a walk-in basis when you feel you can’t wait for business hours or to schedule an appointment.
Minor emergencies happen to all families and seemingly at the most inconvenient of times. While traveling, on the weekend and after business hours. The ER should not be the go to for most of these situations. Walk-in urgent care is there for you practically around the clock.