One of the biggest problems with healthcare today, besides costs, is being able to find a doctor who has open appointments and won’t make you wait days or even weeks. In some urban areas, people can wait weeks to get an appointment, and that’s if they can even find a doctor. One possible solution to the problem is medical urgent care.
Medical urgent care centers are facilities that cater to people with minor medical issues, such as ear infections or sprains. When you go to an urgent care center, you see whatever medical provider is available, which often is a physician assistant or nurse practitioner. However, in most states, these providers can only practice under the supervision of a doctor, and about 65% of urgent care facilities have a doctor on site at all times.
There are many advantages to using an urgent care center. One of the top ones is that such facilities usually have very short wait times. Not only can you get in to see a medical professional on short notice at an urgent care center, but you also don’t have to wait long for your appointment. About 60% of all urgent care patients wait less than 15 minutes to be seen, and only 20% wait more than an hour on average.
Another big advantage of urgent care centers is that they keep longer hours than doctors offices. While most doctors offices are open only 8-5 Monday through Friday, most urgent care centers have evening and weekend hours. About 90% of urgent care centers stay open until at least 7 p.m. and about half are open on Saturdays and about one-third on Sundays. Not only does that make it more convenient for patients, but it can cut down on healthcare costs by giving people an alternative to an emergency room visit when they have a medical issue at night or on the weekend.
Though the emergency room might be a requirement for some serious illnesses and injuries, urgent care centers can handle most medical issues. About 70% of urgent care centers have the capability to provide intravenous fluids if needed and 80% provide fracture care. Both of those services will be much cheaper if provided at a medical urgent care center as opposed to a hospital.
Though urgent care centers cannot handle every medical issue, they are a good option for people who can’t get in to see a doctor or who have a medical problem at night or on a weekend and whose only other alternative would be the emergency room.