Urgent care is a form of health care that gives patients access to essential medical care on a 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week basis. Patients who are in need of urgent care services have non-life threatening, acute conditions. There is no need for an appointment in order to receive urgent care services. In the United States there are more than 8,000 facilities. The largest group is Humana, a health insurance company based in Louisville, Kentucky, that operates 340 urgent care locations under its subsidiary Concentra Urgent Care.
Urgent care centers are an important service for providing community-based health care to those patients not requiring more serious levels of medical attention. According to the Urgent Care Association of America, a trade association for the urgent care industry, between 71 and 160 million patients per year are seen by urgent care centers. What are the services provided by urgent care and the benefit patients derive from visiting an urgent care center versus other types of health care providers, like hospitals? The following is a discussion of urgent care, its services, and how it compares to other providers.
Services Provided through Urgent Care
A typical urgent care facility gives patients the ability to walk in and be seen by a health care professional without the need for an appointment. This access is available 24 hours a day and these centers are open every day of the week. This alone is the most important service offered through urgent care centers. In the United States, of those individuals without a primary or regular doctor, 43 percent do not have same-day access to any doctor, and 63 percent do not have access at night, on weekends, or holidays (except through emergency rooms).
Patients accessing urgent care are seeking non-emergency services. Bumps and bruises, fevers, colds, broken bones, and other medical conditions that do not require general anesthesia or surgery are handled through these centers. The rise in urgent care provides needed relief to overcrowded hospital emergency rooms, especially for treatments that do not require the valuable resources of a hospital.
Comparing Urgent Care to Emergency Room Care
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), emergency room visits number close to 130 million patients, with the number of injury related visits being 38 million. Only a quarter of patients who go to emergency rooms are seen within 15 minutes, and 13 percent of individuals who go to a hospital are actually admitted for additional care. The CDC also reports that African-Americans are more likely than Whites to use a hospital’s emergency room for their urgent care needs. These numbers suggest that far too many people use the emergency room as a form of urgent care treatment. Urgent care centers provide many of the same services found in emergency rooms and are an important alternative for many seeking medical assistance or treatment.
Urgent care provides a viable and important alternative for patients seeking medical attention and treatment for non-life threatening conditions. Relieving the burden from hospital emergency rooms and providing greater access to health care for patients who do not visit a regular doctor (or have access to after-hour care) are some of the important benefits provided by the urgent care system.
This article was written by Travis Guerrero, a health and nutrition expert who hopes to help you understand the healthcare industry better. He writes this on behalf of Prime Urgent Care, your number one choice when looking for urgent care with no insurance required. Check out their website today and see how they can help you!