With every passing day, walk-in clinics and urgent care centers are gaining importance. They are being used more often instead of the emergency room for the fact that they provide convenient, cost-effective and high quality medical care.
According to a recent poll, walk-in medical clinics located in pharmacies, shopping malls, office parks and workplaces are getting more and more popular reporting that 27% people said that they have used walk-in clinics in the past two years. The number has increased from the initial statistics that was 7% in 2008 poll.
Why people prefer walk-in clinics over hospitals?
The main reason people choose walk-in clinics is that they’re convenient and affordable. Also,
- Appointments are not needed, generally.
- They’re easily located
- One does not need to wait for a long time
- They are available in the evenings and weekends as well
- They usually provide a 24 hour service
- Lastly, they are affordable
What are the key aspects for the increased popularity of walk-in clinics?
Today, many health insurance plans cover the cost of visits to urgent care centers. Most walk-in clinics have appointed trained staff who can not only diagnose an illness but also can prescribe medication. The care they provide is consistent and professional.
A study conducted recently identified the factors contributing to the growth and evolution of walk-in clinics in Ontario, Canada. These included a perceived increase in the expectations of a patient for convenient health care and a striking increase in the unavailability of family physicians. This drawback led to the increased visits to walk-in clinics due to their 24 hours availability of the professional staff and respect for life of a patient.
What kind of illnesses are urgent care centers best for?
Earlier people visited the walk-in clinics for basic health services related to colds, sore throats, minor cuts and wounds. Many clinics offer free screening tests for diabetes and cholesterol. As a result, patients have begun to use the clinics for managing their chronic conditions such as hypertension and diabetes, to check their blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels.
Does the shortage of physicians have anything to do with the increased importance of urgent care centers?
Currently there is a severe shortage of physicians in the US and other parts of the globe. The latest prediction from the Association of American Medical Colleges tells that in 2015 there will be 62,900 fewer doctors than the amount needed. Those who rush to emergency departments today, due to unavailability of physicians, will tend to visit the nearby walk-in clinic. Thus the importance of urgent care centers is expected to double by 2015 and even more in the years later.
What are the benefits of urgent care centers?
- Upfront Pricing: Walk-in clinics offer standard prices whereas hospital prices can get double being it denoted as an emergency visit
- First Come, First Serve: They have shorter wait times. One does not need to stand in the queue all day and wait for his turn. Unlike emergency rooms, urgent care clinics work on a first come, first serve basis.
- Co-Pay Savings: Insurance provider co-pays are generally lower at urgent care clinics when compared to hospital emergency room co-pays.
The extended hours and immediate availability of care at walk-in clinics, provides convenience for patients. Due to its better services, people are learning that Urgent Care is a better choice over the emergency room for their immediate, non-life-threatening health care needs.