For those times when a sudden or persistent medical matter occurs, it’s good to be able to turn to an urgent care. An urgent care facility, which is usually open 7 days a week, addresses a wide range of issues, including rashes, fractures, scrapes, stitches, bumps and bruises–and much more, too.

Here is an overview of what types of health care service are offered at an urgent care, especially for those times when it is not really necessary, advisable or practical to visit an emergency room.

At one time or another, many of us have had to visit a hospital Emergency Room. Medical situations that need immediate attention have often placed us in the ER, for lack of any other options. Now, however, patients have a viable alternative: urgent care centers. Here are four benefits to using an urgent care center.

Convenient Hours
You can never tell when an incident will happen, but you can be sure it won’t happen at a convenient time. A major advantage to visiting an urgent care is the convenient hours that they are open. A significant number of urgent care centers (90.6%) do not close until 7:00 pm (or later) on weeknights. And 20%, or two out of five centers, do not close until 9:00pm or later (also on weeknights). During the weekdays, doors open before 9:00 at over 66% of centers. Saturdays and Sundays also have many centers opening before 9:00 am, with 45.7% on Saturdays and 31.1% on Sundays. In addition, quality counts, and 65% of urgent care centers always have a physician on-site.

Shorter Wait Times
Once you arrive at an urgent care center, survey statistics from the Urgent Care Association of America show a wait to be seen of 15 minutes or less for 57% of patients, with all visits being an hour (or less) for 80% of patients. This is not usually the case with a hospital Emergency Room, where patients are seen depending on the severity of their illness/problems. Urgent care will test for strep throat, treat ear infections and sinus infections, etc., in a quicker and more cost efficient way than a standard ER.

Wide Range of Available Treatments
If you’re fortunate enough not to have needed to visit an urgent care center lately, you might be surprised at the wide range of services available. This isn’t just a place for putting on bandages and cleaning up scrapes. Today, 80% of the centers have the capability for providing for patients with fractured bones, while intravenous fluids, if necessary, are provided in 70% of urgent care centers.

Up-to-Date Administrative Procedures
Getting lost in a sea of paperwork and forms is enough to make anyone sick. Today, electronic prescription ordering systems are used in about 40% of urgent care centers. A larger percentage of centers feature computerized methods for billing, coding and reviewing results (lab/image).

To sum up, urgent care centers provide a positive alternative to traditional hospital Emergency Room visits, taking less time and costing less money. Most of us would rather not think about urgent care as we go about our everyday routines, but when the unexpected makes a visit, it’s a great relief to know that an urgent care facility is available.