Illnesses and injuries do not always just happen during the normal work day. Often, people find themselves in need of medical care at night or on the weekends, when their doctor’s office is closed. To meet these needs, urgent walk in clinics have popped up all over the United States. It has been estimated that there are currently about 6,800 urgent care clinics around the country.
This trend was the subject of the 2016 U.S. News Healthcare of Tomorrow Conference that was held in Washington, DC. US News and World Reportandnbsp;has reported that these urgent walk in clinics have become important ways for doctors and other medical professionals to help a large number of people and treat a wide range of conditions.
Urgent walk in clinics were first opened in the 1970s to address the needs many people have to get treatment for things ranging from colds and flus to muscle sprains and strains. It has been estimated that people in the United States come down with more than one billion colds every year. Somewhere between 5 and 20% of the American population will contract the flu every year. Moreover, people around the country break 6.8 million bones every year. All of these problems can be diagnosed and treated at urgent walk in clinics.
Because preventative care is so much less expensive, many health care systems are working on their own options for walk in clinics. These urgent walk in clinics let people make appointments to be seen the same day. Most urgent care centers are open seven days a week and have extended hours at night and/or in the morning. Only a small number, 29%, of primary care doctors have office hours that extend beyond the normal working day. Most can provide x-ray services and many can provide intravenous hydration for people who have become dehydrated due to vomiting and diarrhea.
The benefits of these walk in urgent care centers are clear. Patients are typically seen within 15 minutes and get in and out in under an hour. This makes the process a lot easier and more convenient than going to a hospital emergency room. They are also good for businesses’ bottom line as care received at an urgent walk in clinic is a lot less expensive than going to the emergency room, which is the most expensive place to get medical treatment.
“The customer wants the care when they want it, where they want it, and how they want it. They assume quality and they assume speed,andrdquo; said Dr. Sean McNeely, network medical director of urgent care for University Hospitals in the Cleveland area. “What theyandrsquo;re looking for now is the “wow’ factor.”
When people have urgent care needs that do not rise to the level of an emergency, urgent walk in clinics can be great alternatives to going to the emergency room. Emergency room personnel need to prioritize the care they give by the severity of the illness or injury. While that makes a lot of sense, it means that the wait times are a lot longer and the experience can be a lot more stressful. By contrast, when you go to an urgent care center, the atmosphere is a lot more calm and quiet.
Common problems that are treated in urgent walk in clinics include:
- Upper respiratory infections.
- Urinary tract infections.
- Muscle sprains and strains.
- Small wounds and cuts.
- Rashes and insect bites.
- Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
- Eye infections.
- Ear infections.
- Moderate back pain.
There are definitely times when people should seek out medical care at a hospital emergency room. If there is any thought that an illness or injury may result in an admission to the hospital, the emergency room is the best place to go for care. There are a number of instances where people may not be able to wait for their primary care physician’s office to open to get care but who do not have a true medical “emergency.”
So, if you fall on the tennis court and hurt your ankle on the weekend or your child has a bad ear infection that cannot wait, you can go to the local urgent walk in clinic for first rate heath care that is very convenient.