Since the 1970s, urgent care clinics have popped up in cities all across the U.S. They tend to offer more convenient, accessible hours (with a reported 85% of them being 24 hour walk in clinics open seven days a week) than traditional physicians’ offices, a factor that’s helped bolster their reputation here at home. Internationally, countries like New Zealand, Canada, England, Ireland, Australia and Israel have adopted the urgent care philosophy to open up facilities of their own.
But detractors point toward urgent care as one of the largest reasons why health care is, in the eyes of some, in a volatile downward spiral of decreasing care and increasing costs. However, a new article from the Boston Globe shows that kind of thinking to be misguided at best and actually destructive to the goals and aims of urgent care at worst. Why? Effectively, it all boils down to these three reasons.
1. Urgent care facilities help take the pressure off of ERs.
The How: For a long time, insurance providers actually wouldn’t cover urgent care costs because the clinics were seen as detractors of regular physician care, a point of view we mentioned above. But in Boston (as in other major metropolitan cities), there’s a dire need for primary care physicians right now because of increased health insurance laws.
Why It Matters: Now, insurance companies are actually using urgent care clinics as a way to reroute patients from ERs altogether (notwithstanding actual emergencies). That means it’s cheaper for the patients as well as the provider at large. And what’s good for the goose is — well, you know.
2. Many urgent care centers are owned and run by doctors, not business folks.
The How: According to the aforementioned Boston Globe story, many urgent care centers are still struggling to turn a profit, yet more of them keep popping up across the country. The reason is simple: they’re run by health care professionals, not savvy business people. Now, that doesn’t mean that all urgent care is doomed to fail because of incompetency, but it does raise some interesting points about the industry.
Why It Matters: There are urgent care clinics staffed by ER-trained doctors and nurses. There are urgent care centers affiliated with hospitals and insurance companies in order to provide more comprehensive care. In the end, the goal of these clinics is to help you get better. Period.
3. X-rays and prescription dispensing are now available via urgent care.
The How: Taking the burden off overbooked primary care physicians, urgent care can become a great resource for the sick and injured in diagnosing their actual ailments. That’s due to the proliferation of x-ray machines and point-of-care prescription dispensing at centers across the country, advancements that help keep doctors and patients flowing along with ease.
Why It Matters: Not looking forward to spending additional time booking an appointment with your doc? That’s where urgent care comes in. Not pumped for waiting at the pharmacy for your scrip to be ready? Again, that’s where urgent care comes in. The keyword here seems to be convenience — for both the doctor and the patient.
For more information on the benefits of urgent care, talk to a local medical professional today. Helpful research also found here.