For many years in American medicine, you had to either go to your family doctor or go to the emergency room. There wasn’t much of a choice between the two. If you happened to get sick when the doctor wasn’t in the office, you had to head over to the emergency room of your local hospital and wait to be seen by a doctor trained and experienced in giving you emergency care.
On the other hand, if you were injured at a ball game or on the job, your family doctor would not be equipped to give you effective treatment for those types of situations. For those things, you went straight to the emergency room.
In our present day America, the practice of medicine has changed. With the advent of new technology and a change in the way doctors are practicing medicine, you can go to a 24 hour walk in clinic location from both emergency situations as well as check ups and even std testing. Here are three reasons urgent care medicine is family care and emergency care all in one.
1.) Urgent care facilities are growing.
There are over 20,000 physicians who currently practice urgent care medicine today, and this number is expected to grow substantially over the next several years. While it might have been very difficult to find a 24 hour walk in clinic location ten years ago, these days you are likely to find one almost everywhere you go. The average patient-per-hour ratio for doctors at an urgent care center is roughly 4.5 patients per hour. This means that they can spend more time with you than at an emergency room.
2.) Urgent care facilities can save you money.
A 2009 study by the RAND Corp. found that 14 to 27% of emergency room visits could be handled by urgent care centers or some kind of retail clinics. This comes out to a savings of roughly $4.4 billion per year in health care costs. So, instead of head out to the emergency room of your local hospital as your automatic response to an injury or illness, a 24 hour walk in clinic location could very well provide the same care and at much less cost.
3.) Urgent care wait times are less than the emergency room at your local hospital.
We’ve all been there. You go to the ER and check in at the front desk. The next thing you know, you are waiting in the waiting room watching Cheers reruns because your injury isn’t life-threatening. About 60% of all urgent care facilities have a wait time of 15 minutes or less to see an actual doctor or a mid-level provider. Roughly 65% of all centers have a physician on site at all times.
The medical landscape of this country is changing. With all of the advances we have made in technology, equipment is getting smaller and more portable. This allows smaller locations to have access to things only the big hospitals once had. Now, treatment can be done just as well with very little wait times and for less money. It is a win/win for everyone involved.