It is after hours and you have a fever. Or it is Saturday and you have injured yourself on the tennis court. In both instances, you may not want to wait for Monday to get medical attention but do you really need to go to the emergency room? Luckily, you have other options. Advanced urgent care centers have popped up all over the country and they offer people walk in medical care when they need to be seen right away but do not have a true “emergency.”
- They are open every day. Most advanced urgent care centers open before 9:00 am during the week. At least 66% do this. They also have weekend hours so you can get care when you need it and on your schedule. About 90.6% of advanced urgent care centers stay open past 7:00 pm during the week. Two in five centers are open to 9:00 pm or even later.
- The wait time is minimal. Many urgent care centers give patients the option to sign up in advance. Even if you do not have the time to do that, your wait time will be a lot less than in a hospital emergency department. In a recent survey that was dine by the Urgent Care Association of America,, in 57% of the centers, patients only had to wait 15 minutes or less. For 80% of the patients who go to these centers, the entire visit can take less than an hour. When you go to the emergency room, you are not only treated in the order you arrived, you are seen by a combination of your arrival time and the severity of your medical problem,
- The care is more affordable. Many insurance companies are embracing urgent care centers as alternatives to emergency rooms. This means the co-payment for your visit will be a lot less than when you go to the hospital.
- The advanced urgent care experience is a lot less stressful than the emergency room. When you go to the emergency department, you are surrounded by trauma. There are ambulances coming and going. It can be a very harried and stressful experience. That is not the case when you are dealing with urgent care centers. It is a much more calm and relaxed environment. If your child has hurt themselves on the soccer field, taking them to the advanced urgent care center will be a lot less traumatic than going to the emergency department.
- Advanced urgent care can treat a lot more than you might think. For example, sprained ankles send thousands of people in emergency rooms around the country. These injuries can be treated in an advanced urgent care center. In fact, about 80% of all urgent care centers around the nation can provide simple fracture care. About 70% can offer intravenous fluids if you have become dehydrated. They can also:
- Handle routine tests.
- Deal with strep throat.
- Treat stomach problems and diarrhea.
- Help with minor to moderate back injuries.
- Provide travel medicine services such as vaccinations.
- Perform basic blood work.
Urgent care centers were started in the 1980s by emergency room physicians who saw a need to fill. They saw patients going to emergency rooms, not because they were having a true emergency but because they could not get in to see their regular doctor. The data backs that theory up. According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 48% of all adults who go to the hospital emergency room are not actually sick enough to be admitted to the hospital. These people are only in the emergency department because they are sick or injured and their regular doctor’s office is closed.
Since the first advanced urgent care center was opened, the need for them has only grown. In today’s world, it is not always possible to get in for a regular appointment with your family physician. Having another option for urgent situations that are not true medical emergencies that would result in an admission to the hospital is one way people are leading healthier lives.