Why Urgent Cares are the best thing since sliced bread
There are more than 9300 Urgent Care centers in the US, and that number is expanding at a substantial rate. Insurers and consumers alike are enjoying the value-based services provided in one convenient Urgent Care location, leading to unprecedented rapid growth within this health segment. Simply put, people are figuring out that Urgent Care clinics offer more flexibility, prompt attention and medical services than a visit to the doctor or ER. Here’s why…
They have appointments and hours when your primary care doctor does not
With a growing shortage of primary care physicians, it’s not surprising that scheduling a timely, convenient appointment with your family doctor can be difficult. Enter the Urgent Care center! Your local Urgent Care clinic is likely to be open far later into the evening and on both weekend days, in addition to offering walk-in appointments. When you have an illness that is not quite an emergency, but calls for a medical consult or a prescription that may help you get through the night, Urgent Care centers have the edge in keeping you on top of your health needs with their extended hours and availability. (However, you will still want to visit your doctor for managing your chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes.) Urgent Care centers are working carefully to collaborate with primary care physicians to keep them apprised of medical treatment provided at the clinic.
Your Urgent Care visit will cost less than a typical ER visit
Studies show that Urgent Care services are at least a quarter the cost of an ER visit. Most insurance companies, lured by the lower costs, are rewarding patients who visit Urgent Cares over ERs with far lower copays. In addition, as many as 25% of all visits to the ER could have been served equally or better at an Urgent Care center to start with. Since people are paying increasingly higher premiums for their health plans, an Urgent Care clinic can be enticing with its convenience and lower costs when compared to a higher Emergency Room bill.
Your wait times are much shorter than in an Emergency room
In an Emergency Department, trauma or cardiac arrest patients will definitely be seen ahead of your sprained ankle, but in an Urgent care, you’re not going up against people with life-threatening emergencies. Your wait time will be short in an Urgent Care clinic, in many cases less than 20 minutes! Shorter wait times equal happy customers and money savings all around. Even hospitals have an interest in having their own Urgent Care centers to keep people with minor injuries out of the ER, treat them in a lower cost setting, and decrease the load on busy emergency departments. If you are in doubt, life-threatening emergencies such as significant trauma, chest pain or severe abdominal pain should always be treated in an emergency room.
Urgent Cares cater to most of your health needs
Think of them as an ideal blend between your family doctor and an ER. They can perform many of the types of services you expect at an ER, yet also provide more than your average primary care office. Typically, Urgent Cares treat sprains, colds, infections and cuts. However they are also able to do x-rays and set broken bones, provide vaccinations and perform physicals. Some even have pharmacies on site. Most of the doctors and nurses you will encounter in an Urgent Care clinic specialize in Family Medicine, just like your regular doctor, but at least 30% are trained in Emergency Medicine. With the massive growth in this sector, Urgent Care Medicine is a rising specialty amongst young physicians.
Urgent Care centers offer Imaging and Lab services in one convenient location
Need an x-ray to check if your ankle is broken or just sprained? Heading over to your local Urgent Care clinic is your best option for fast service and treatment. Over 90% of Urgent Cares offer a variety of imaging and lab services. If you need blood testing or urinalysis completed for an illness, drug screen or pregnancy or you need a rapid strep assay, it’s readily available at your Urgent Care center.
They’re there for you when you need to get a physical completed ASAP
Whether it is for pre-employment or your current job, for sports, camps or school, your Urgent Care center can perform a medical examination and complete all the necessary paperwork for you. Over 90% of Urgent Cares offer Occupational Medicine services, which may include physical exams, treating work-related injuries and performing the necessary follow-up. In addition, some Urgent Cares do DOT physicals for commercial drivers’ licenses and perform medical exams for immigration.
Urgent Care clinics are beginning to offer their own specialties
Some Urgent Cares clinics are expanding their current services to accommodate developing consumer demand as people seek out more value and convenience for their medical needs. Some are expanding their services to include such specialties as cardiology and chronic wound care. In most cases, they are examining the specific needs of their local community in developing such programs.
Jack Roberts is an expert marketer who specializes in promoting and growing physician practices. He currently works with UrgentWay walk-in clinic to help improve their online footprint and garner interest in their Urgent Care, Occupational Health and Health services.