It’s a scene that we’ve seen all too often: you or someone you know has an immediate medical concern and makes a trip to the emergency room. Once you’re there, you wait and wait some more waiting for your name to be called.
For an immediate problem, there’s nothing wrong with the ER. But if you go, here’s what you might have to look forward to:
- A long wait: The average time spent waiting in the ER increased from 46.5 minutes to 58.1 minutes from 2003 to 2009.
- A big bill: According to the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, the average ER visitor pays anywhere from $615 to $1,318 per visit.
With the cost of ER visits on the rise and long wait times, urgent care facilities and 24 hour walk in clinics offer patients many options when it comes to finding a quicker and more cost-effective way to be treated. According to the Urgent Care Association of America, an estimated three million patients visit an urgent care facility each week. Currently there are 20,000 physicians and top doctors practicing urgent care medicine.
There are many benefits to going to an urgent care facility, whether you’re being treated for minor illnesses and injuries or being treated for something more serious.
- Roughly 60% of all urgent care facilities have a wait time of less than 15 minutes to see a physician or mid-level provider. In addition, 65% have a physician on-site at all times.
- The Urgent Care Association of America reports that 57% of patients wait 15 minutes or less to be seen and about 80% of all visits are 60 minutes or less. So not only will you not have to spend all day at a doctor’s office, you’ll be able to see top doctors in a reasonable amount of time.
- Another of the benefits of urgent care is that more than 66% of urgent care centers open prior to 9 a.m. during the week and many within that grouping are also open on Saturday and Sunday.
- The majority of centers (90.6%) remain open until 7 p.m. or later on weeknights and two out of five are open until 9 p.m. or later, so your chances of finding an urgent care that’s open late are very good.
- Seven in ten urgent care centers can provide IV fluids when needed.
- About 40% of urgent care centers use electronic prescription ordering systems and many of them use computerized systems to collect patient data, clinical notes and billing information.
- A physician or a group of top doctors owns about 50% of urgent care centers, which gives that person or group of people a vested interested in having the facility run to the best of its ability.
If you’re wondering where you should go for medical care, consider for a moment the following:
- Approximately 25,000 Americans suffer every day from an ankle sprain.
- Dizziness is the second most common complaint heard in doctor’s offices and it occurs in 70% of the American population.
- 65% of people older than 60 experience dizziness or loss of balance, sometimes daily.
- At least 40% of those suffering from chronic low-back pain don’t see a doctor or physical therapist.
- Up to 69% of Americans say low back pain affects them on a daily basis.
One of the benefits of urgent care is that doctors there can help treat all of above symptoms that plague Americans on a day-to-day basis. In 2012, the most common problem at an urgent care center was upper respiratory condition and the most common procedure was wound repair.
Still not convinced? The list of symptoms that can be treated at an urgent care is growing with facilities able to treat sports injuries, muscle strain and sprains, asthma, ear infections, sexually transmitted diseases, dizziness and many other ailments.
Emergency room doctors play an important role in providing patients with vital care, often in life threatening situations. But waiting in the ER for a non-threatening injury or condition can take hours and there are many benefits of urgent care facilities, which can offer less wait time and help for anyone who comes in.
Sites like UrgentCareCenter.org can help you find an urgent care in your area.