Over the past decade, the field of American health care has been supplemented with the introduction of urgent care units across the country. Today there are around 9,000 urgent care units in the United States and that number continues to grow. Although it is unlikely that urgent care units will replace doctor’s offices or hospitals anytime soon, here are three strong reasons why urgent care units are challenging the American health care field modify its philosophy.
Putting Patients First
Many doctor’s offices have limited hours to see patients; patients that require immediate medical attention were once forced to wait in hospital emergency rooms where they would be seen based on the severity of their ailment. Walk in clinics act as an alternative option to emergency rooms with many centers open for extended hours on weekdays and weekends. Urgent care centers see an average of 342 patients every week with a majority of centers having wait times that are less than 20 minutes. Urgent care centers are devoted to quickly and professionally treating patients with the same quality of care that would be offered at a hospital.
More Affordable Health Care
Hospitals are well known to take advantage of patients by overcharging for basic medical equipment. Patients have been charged $16 for using tissues, nearly $20 every time they have their blood pressure taken, and an average of $25 per Tylenol — don’t throw out the medication cup either, as some hospitals have been known to charge patients $3 per plastic medication cup used! Up to 90% of urgent care centers were actually founded by doctors who wanted to remove themselves from profiteering off of the sick, this is why the difference in cost between urgent care and an emergency room visit for the same diagnosis is an average of $228 to $583.
Each urgent care center is different, although an overwhelming majority have a full-time physician on staff at all times. Approximately 70% of urgent care clinics can provide intravenous fluids and fracture care as needed. Around half of all urgent care centers in the United States provide prescription pharmaceuticals that are pre-packaged to dispense a full course of treatment — this is included in the cost of the center treatment, thereby avoiding complicated pharmacy pricing systems. Some more advanced urgent care centers have emergency care wings just like a hospital. For those without insurance or looking to avoid the inflated fees of the hospital emergency room, there is likely an urgent care center in your area.