If You Don’t Have an Emergency, Go to the Urgent Care Facility Near You
Perhaps you have had minor illnesses in the past and you do not have a regular primary care physician. Your first thought, if you have one again, might be to go to your local hospital and enter the emergency room. You would get seen at some point, though since your situation is not an emergency, you would likely not be seen anytime soon.
After you did get seen and treated in the emergency room, you would most likely be sent home, with a diagnosis and possibly with some medication. Sometime later, you would receive a bill almost 10 times higher than if you had gone to an urgent care clinic. A case that could have been treated at an urgent care facility but was treated at an emergency room would cost an average of roughly $2,039. If that same case had been treated at an urgent care clinic, it would have cost, on average, $226. Anyone can see that is quite a difference.
Milliman recently conducted a private study to determine, in part, what percentage of cases that were treated in the emergency room could have actually been treated in an urgent care clinic. According to the study, approximately 44-65% of all emergency room visits could have been treated in urgent care settings, saving patients thousands of dollars.
Right now in the United States, there are 20,000 doctors who are practicing medicine in an Urgent Care practice and that number is increasing. Urgent Care Medicine is being developed into a legitimate and very important specialty in the medical field. For example, while not every clinic operates in exactly the same way, many urgent care clinics are open 24 hours to treat minor illnesses and other more serious medical issues from sprains to chest pains.
In the United States right now there is quite a bit of debate and turmoil surrounding how we are going to move forward with our health care system as a whole. In the meantime, many physicians are finding a thriving practice in Urgent Care Medicine throughout the country. On average, and urgent care doctor will see around 4.5 patients per hour. This, of course, depends on the severity of the case or the acuity of the patient’s condition.
With the health care system being what it is in the Untied States, many people around the country will put off going to the doctor for minor illnesses and chronic pain problems because they simply can’t afford a trip to the doctor. The sad irony of this is that when they let minor illnesses turn into major illnesses, they have to end up going to the emergency room where the treatment costs are so much higher.
Imagine this scenario. A man in his late seventies who has been healthy for his entire life, only getting sick a few times in his youth, comes down with the flu. He doesn’t think it is a big deal and because he does not have a regular primary doctor he does not go in for any kind of treatment. His daughter tells him about the new urgent care facility in his town, but he decides to stay at home.
In time, his flu develops into pneumonia and he has to call an ambulance to take him to the emergency room. He stays for a few days and then is released to go home. His hospital bill is too much for him to pay and he ends up in deep financial trouble.
This would not have to happen. With Urgent Care centers opening up in many communities around the country, walking in and seeing a doctor is easy and very cost effective. Urgent Care is our medical practice of the future.