When is an Urgent Care Visit Appropriate?

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You wake up on the weekend, feeling hot and congested. You are sweating and you have body aches and pains. You did not drink anything the evening before, knowing that you finally caught the sickness that has been going around the office. You feel miserable and want relief, in the form of medication. Your primary physician?s office will not be open until Monday, if they are even able to fit you in that early. Besides, you have to work on Monday. You could go to the emergency care room, but does your high fever really warrant an emergency? It seems that an urgent care setting would better fit your current medical needs.

Urgent care centers are a middle ground between primary care physician?s offices and emergency centers. They provide that convenient quality and cost that we expect from our primary medical provider?s office, but with better office hours and no need for an appointment. They keep people from filling up the emergency care rooms that do not really need emergency care. This lessens wait times for those who are really experiencing an emergency.

According to a report from Truven Health Analytics, more than 70% of emergency department visits from patients with consumer sponsored insurance coverage are for non emergency conditions or conditions easily preventable through simple outpatient care. Those without insurance may also choose an emergency center over a primary care office, because they may be required to pay the office copay before being seen in the primary setting.

The costs of urgent care centers are more closely similar to that of the primary care office. This makes it a great option for those with no or little health insurance. Average reimbursement for an urgent care visit is approximately $102 per patient, compared with $302 per patient on average in a hospital emergency department, according to the report.

Most urgent care centers also have the ability to treat a variety of conditions. As long as the visit is not considered an emergency, they are equipped to care for it. They see all types of conditions, including minor burns or back pain. They see a variety of patients with high fevers and feelings of congestion. Most of these patients were unable to get into their regular physician?s office in a timely manner. Some urgent care centers may even provide advanced diagnostic and laboratory services.

Many urgent care settings are located in or nearby the local hospital, sometimes even directly across from the emergency department of a hospital. When a patient visits the urgent care for minor burns or back pain, they can receive the appropriate testing for such conditions. Minor burns or back pain are two of the most common visits for urgent care centers.

Patients will also find that they are required to wait for shorter periods of time in an urgent care setting. Most urgent cares are staffed with regular physicians and nurses, who are prepared to handle the patient?s needs. Emergency centers are often short staffed and may be required to borrow staff from the hospital, which can result in high wait times.

The convenient medical treatment model of the urgent care setting provides patients with a shorter wait time for a variety of conditions, including minor burns or back pain. In fact, roughly 60% of all urgent care centers have a wait time of less than 15 minutes to see a physician or mid level provider, and 65% have a physician on site at all times. Patients seeking urgent care for minor aches and pains also help to free up the already busy and crowded emergency rooms, reducing wait time for such emergencies.

Illnesses and injuries tend to occur outside of physician office hours. Emergency departments offer medical care, but the patient is often required to wait for many hours and spend hundreds of dollars. Urgent care settings are the perfect balance between the convenience and cost of primary care offices and the open hours of the emergency department. Urgent care settings have the ability to see a variety of patients, some with the ability to do testing and diagnostics. The next time you require medical care outside of physician?s office hours, consider if an urgent care setting will work for your needs.

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