Sometimes the quickest and easiest way is actually the best way and urgent care centers, popularly known as a “walk-in-clinic” or a “doc-in-the-box”, help illustrate this point perfectly. When a health problem occurs, it does not come with advance notice, nor is it generous enough to occur when we have free time to deal with it. And in those situations, urgent care clinics come to the rescue like a true companion. We can examine the growing popularity of urgent care centers by taking a look at the following seven factors.
Extended hours of service- The biggest reason for the popularity of urgent care clinics is their extended hours of operation. Most urgent care clinics offer service from 7 am to 11 pm in order to be accessible to patients who cannot take leave to visit the doctor. By opening early they cater to patients who can visit before their office opens and by staying open late, they can help families with children home from school or employees who can only visit after finishing the day at the office. These extended hours are a significant benefit for those who are too busy to miss work or for those who are unable to postpone a meeting but at the same time can’t go to office without receiving treatment. Some urgent care centers also provide full services during weekends or on holidays which can be of immense help for people who might require urgent medical care during hours where their primary care doctor is closed.
Treatment without an appointment- Before the rise of urgent care clinics it was common practice, except for emergency situations, for people to make an appointment in advance to meet their family physicians. That meant they had to suffer their through pain until their appointment. And when even a common headache can cause so much discomfort that focus is drawn away from work, time spent waiting for an appointment can cause serious losses in productivity. Here again urgent care clinics offer a convenient solution as you don’t need any prior appointment to see a doctor. That is literally why they are called walk-in-clinics.
Cost and Insurance- To be fair, the cost of treatment can vary from one clinic to another. But in general, when compared to the cost for similar treatment at other facilities, such as the ER, urgent care clinics are cheaper and more affordable. This is a substantial benefit for patients who lack insurance and need to pay for treatment themselves. For those patients that do have insurance, the co-pays for treatment at urgent care clinics are typically less than those at an ER and are generally on par with a family physician. And given that these clinics accept most types of insurance plans, patients will rarely need to worry about out of network costs.
Less time waiting- Patients who have a medical issue that isn’t life-threatening have two choices: 1) visit an emergency room or 2) visit an urgent care center. Emergency rooms are designed to treat true life-threatening medical emergencies. Patients are admitted based on the severity of their issue, meaning someone with a serious issue like a brain injury or a heart attack will be admitted before someone seeking treatment for an issue with less immediacy. This order of priority can result in long wait times for someone with a non-life-threatening issue. Since urgent care centers don’t treat emergency cases, the average time to treat each case is less and because they see patients on a first come, first served basis, patients will more accurately know how they will need to wait in order to see a doctor.
Best for common ailments- Common health problems like the flu, allergies, skin conditions, sinus problem, wounds and minor injuries, minor eye injuries, and upset stomachs can be effectively handled by the health professionals in urgent care centers. Treatment for these ailments are fairly standard and therefore don’t require specialized care in a primary or emergency care unit. However, while these problems may be minor, they do need urgent attention for quick relief from the pain and discomfort associated with their symptoms. This is where urgent care centers are the best in providing the fastest treatment without any appointment and long wait times.
Availability in your location- Recent surveys have indicated that there are almost 10,000 urgent care clinics throughout the nation and this number is expected to rise to more than 12,000 in the next couple of years. This data indicates the high degree of likelihood that an urgent care clinic will be close to your location. If you search on Google or on online urgent care directories, you can find the location of nearest urgent care clinics with a map to give you directions.
Modern facilities and qualified physicians- Most urgent care clinics are well equipped with modern labs and instruments including X-Rays, ultrasounds, vaccines, and scanners to accurately diagnose your problem. All of this equipment means that you do not need to go to other facilities for follow up tests. The health professionals at these clinics have typically trained as emergency care doctors and are well qualified to treat a wide range of issues. They can serve you like a family physician or may refer you to emergency care for critical issues. Or if you have chronic health problem that requires longer treatment, they can provide recommendations to an appropriate specialist.
Individual opinion may differ from person to person based on one’s experience in urgent care facilities, but thanks to the above factors, urgent care centers are without a doubt one of the fastest growing segments of our modern health care system.