When you’re sick, you want the most effective treatment out there. You want the best, most efficient, most cost effective care. While the emergency room is good in cases of true emergency, emergency care can often feel rushed and certainly leaves you saddled with a large bill to pay off. For those without (or without easy access to, in the case of college students, for example) primary care physicians, emergency centers sometimes seem like the only option. But a 24 hour walk in clinic, also called urgent care, can provide effective treatment of an equal quality to a general care practitioner.
People in need of urgent care facilities are many – emergency room visits total over 100 million every year. But urgent care centers are also on the rise – there are almost 10,000 stand alone centers in the United States alone, and this does not account for urgent care facilities that are part of an existing store (such as popular drugstores). Over 50 new centers open every year. A vast amount of physicians – over 20,000 now – work for urgent care facilities. These emergency-trained doctors can provide the best services possible.
Why urgent care instead of an emergency room? For more minor – and even some severe – ailments, urgent care can provide the same treatment without the wait and with a considerably less prohibitive cost. Urgent care centers have an average 15 minute wait time. In a hospital, unless you are in a state of serious emergency, there’s no telling how long it will take. In a hospital, one case might cost over $2,000. If that case was treated at an urgent care facility, it would cost the facility only around $200. And most cases (around 40-65%) that are seen in an emergency room could have been easily treated at an urgent care facility.
So what CAN urgent care facilities treat? They treat a number of conditions, from minor burns or back pain to headaches and flu treatment. Many urgent care centers also have imaging and labs and can run tests to best diagnose and treat their patients.
Urgent care facilities are ever growing around the country, diagnosing and treating patients and providing effective treatment to many. Without the effective treatment that urgent care centers can provide, many of these patients would have no choice but to seek care in an emergency room, costing themselves more money and time.