Did you know that according to Urgent Care Association of America’s estimates, 3 million patients visit urgent care centers every week? That’s a lot of people visiting neighborhood walk-in clinics instead of a hospital emergency room, and for good reason. Family urgent care centers are significantly less expensive than hospitals and stay open longer than your general care practitioners’ office. On top of the benefits they offer to patients, urgent care centers are improving the healthcare industry in general.
Here are five ways that your local urgent care clinic is benefiting you and our healthcare system:
- Hospitals are overcrowded
Since many people aren’t fully aware of the accommodation provided by urgent care facilities, they just go to the hospital. It’s not that everyone believes they need to go to the hospital; rather, they feel as if they have no choice. This leads to a great deal of sick yet not in mortal peril people waiting around in an emergency room lobby that just keeps getting more crowded. It’s nobody’s fault, and until the rise of the urgent care industry, there really was no other option. Today, your nearest urgent care is helping take the pressure off of local hospitals.
- Healthcare is wildly overpriced
Everything costs more in the emergency room. This is a culmination of much higher overhead operations costs, demand competition, and the insurance system. This is not the case at urgent care facilities. Here, patients can receive the same services at a fraction of the cost. They have much lower overhead and dedicated teams that are out to save the world one patient at a time.
- Not everything is an emergency
If you’ve ever been to a hospital after your doctor’s office closed you might remember how it was crowded with people of varying degrees of illness. The individuals with broken arms, flu symptoms, and migraines are relegated to the germ utopia of the waiting room while the gunshot wound and heart attack victims are rolled right past them as fast as they come in. The direst situations in an emergency room see the most immediate attention. This results in wait times of several hours for certain patients. Ultimately, this arrangement frustrates patients. And frustrated patients result in frustrated providers, lowering the quality of care for everyone.
- Not everything can wait
You might not be dying, but that broken arm won’t be fun to live with until your doctor’s office reopens on Monday morning. Or your child might just need a physical for school, but you work during the hours your doctor’s office is open. Whatever your reason for needing medical care, sometimes it can’t wait. Finally, there’s an option that works for working patients.
- Free clinics for low-income patients
While the urgent care near you likely does charge a reasonable price for their services, more and more healthcare organizations are giving back to their community by hosting free clinics. Some of these clinics specialize in specialty care like dentistry or prenatal care, while others offer general medical services to low-income patients. By offering preventative and routine care at these free clinics, providers can help stop expensive medical problems before they happen. Thus, free clinics further take pressure off your local hospital and emergency room.
- Hospitals are overcrowded
Whether you need pediatric urgent care services or stitches, urgent care is there to help you. Our hospitals are clogged and patients could end up waiting to be seen for many hours. Urgent care centers hope to bridge the gap between the perpetually closed or booked general care physicians and the always open but frantically busy hospitals.