Across the country, urgent care facilities have been increasing in popularity since they first appeared in the 1970s. Representing one of the fastest-growing players in the American healthcare system, they boast shorter wait times and more convenient hours than physicians’ office. What has the U.S. enamored of walk in doctors? Let’s look and see.
We all know how difficult it can be to schedule an appointment with a primary care physician. Most patients are given wait times of at least a week before they can be seen. Primary care physicians are seeing increased caseloads, leaving their offices and schedules crowded. As such, those with urgent conditions are often unable to get timely appointments to deal with their medical needs. Walk in doctors, however, eliminate that problem as many offer 24 hr urgent care. Though patients are often instructed to follow up with their primary care physicians, it is easier to wait for a follow up appointment after treatment than to be treated in the first place.
Emergency rooms are confronted with a wide range of medical issues, many of which are severe and potentially fatal. Patients who have non threatening, but urgent conditions often turn to the emergency room when they cannot get appointments with their primary practitioners with the result that they must wait behind patients with more urgent needs. Such a situation creates a difficult situation for all involved. Those with non life threatening complaints are left to wait for inordinate amounts of time, those with life threatening complaints have to share the attention of the doctors with those who are not in immediate danger, and doctors feel overwhelmed. Walk in doctors provide immediate care for those with non life threatening injuries, decreasing the burden on emergency rooms. Moreover, an emergency room visit typically costs a patient about $1,500 compared to the less than $150 cost of urgent care.
An incredible 66% of urgent care facilities employ a mix of physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants. Sixty-five percent have at least one physician on site at all times. As such, they are able to provide the same level of care available at private offices and emergency rooms. The conditions most frequently treated by walk in doctors include:
- upper respiratory illness
- gastrointestinal conditions
Especially during cold and flu season, 24 hr urgent care facilities are an asset to the medical community, keeping emergency rooms and private offices less crowded and making care available to a number of patients with urgent needs. Next time you’re suffering from a non threatening, urgent ailment, consider a visit to your local urgent care facility for quality, expedient medical attention. Helpful info also found here.