Urgent Care Centers The Bridge in the Continuum of Care

Walk in clinic

Urgent care centers are booming in the United States. And the reasons why are fairly simple. Consider the following illnesses and ailments: broken bones, lacerations, influenza, bronchitis, high cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension, ankle sprains, colds, coughs. Urgent care centers treat these conditions and with one big attraction:

They are walk-in clinics

Walk in urgent care centers have the ability to treat patients without appointments. This is beneficial for patients who have an urgent condition that needs to be treated immediately, with or without insurance. Walk in urgent care centers provide a level of treatment that is often more beneficial than a primary care physician.

There are some facts about the illnesses and ailments that urgent care centers treat:

  • On average, between 5% and 20% of Americans come down with the flu each year.
  • Cold symptoms often last between 48 hours and 14 days. The average person makes a full recovery within 10 days.
  • Reports estimate that 25,000 Americans suffer from an ankle sprain each day.
  • Urinary tract infections acount for around 8.1 million visits to doctors each year.

The most common diagnosis in a walk in urgent care center is an upper respiratory infection. The most common procedure done in a walk in urgent care center is wound repair. These are all significant illnesses and ailments that can be treated in a walk in urgent care center. Often, immediacy in treatment is crucial to a patient.

Urgent care centers can be seen as the bridge between primary care physicians and the emergency room. They have several positive attributes from the emergency room, including immediacy of treatment, while they retain the affordability of the primary care physician. They take from both and serve as the bridge.

Primary care physicians are helpful for treating ailments at a lower cost. The copays to see a physician are likely the least compared to other doctors and they provide care for a number of ailments, just like walk in urgent care centers. However, it may be difficult to make an appointment with them for an immediate issue.

This lack of immediacy forces patients to choose another path when they have an immediate issue: Either wait till the appointment gets there or go to the emergency room. This is a decision that changes costs in the mind of the patient as well as forces them to a level of treatment that they do not completely need.

Walk in urgent care centers enable patients to see a provider that same day rather than wait for an appointment and without moving to such a high level of care as the emergency room. Walk in urgent care centers have the ability to provide primary care physician level care of higher at a slightly higher cost but on the same day.

Walk in urgent care centers are also different than emergency rooms in that they have a lower cost and lower wait time associated with them. Emergency rooms have the best treatment available. They have the best equipment and the best doctors. But they are expensive. Emergency room bills sometimes run into the thousands.

Walk in urgent care centers have bills that may get into the hundreds if the person doesn’t have insurance.

Studies have also show that the majority of people who seek out treatment at an emergency room do not need that level of care and could have sought out care at a slightly less intensive level. Walk in urgent care centers provide that level of care (slightly less than an emergency room) and at a much lower cost.

Urgent care centers then become the bridge between the primary care physician and the emergency room. They cost slightly more than the primary care physician but substantially less than the emergency room. They offer a slightly higher level of care than the primary care physician and less level of care than the emergency room.

Urgent care centers are generally equipped with sophisticated imaging equipment such as x-ray machines and in some cases MRI machines. There is almost always a doctor in the building or even a mid-level provider. They are most often open early in the mornings and late at night and 85% of walk in urgent care centers are open seven days a week.

They are helpful to those in need.

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