There are approximately 110 million emergency room visits every year. Americans tend to rely on having 24-hour access to the type of care provided by these departments; however, when the reasons for these visits are non-emergency in nature, these individuals could receive the attention they need at an urgent care center instead.
Truven Health Analytics, for example, reports that over 70% of the emergency room visits made by patients with consumer-sponsored insurance are non-emergency in nature. Their presenting conditions could easily be treated or prevented by visiting an outpatient facility.
Furthermore, a private study by Milliman showed that roughly 44% to 65% of emergency room situations could have been handled in an urgent care clinic. A RAND Corporation study conducted in 2009 also showed that 14% to 27% of emergency room visits could be treated in an urgent care center. If this were the case, they estimated that $4.4 billion a year could be saved in health costs.
While it does depend on a number of factors, the typical hospital emergency room visit will cost $2,039. When the same case is handled by an urgent care facility, it would typically cost $226. This is obviously a significant cost differential.
Patients do not need to wait as long to see a physician or other experienced medical practitioner at an urgent care facility. The American Academy of Urgent Care Medicine states that while waiting time will depend on the severity of a patient’s condition, 4.5 patients are usually seen by a physician every hour.
In addition to providing convenient medical treatment, an urgent care clinic also provides timely primary medical care. This includes comprehensive specialized pediatric care, treatment for minor injuries and illnesses, and advanced diagnostic and laboratory services. When comprehensive specialized pediatric care is needed, it’s important to note that this includes pediatric urgent and emergency care.
When a situation is life-threatening, it is necessary to go a hospital emergency room. However, when the situation isn’t life-threatening. the best urgent care treatments and services are available with less waiting time and at a lower cost.