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Urgent Care Centers: Alternative to Emergency Room or Doctor Visit

  • Publish Date : 2016/04/22 - (Rev. 2019/03/25)
  • Author : MD Now Urgent Care Walk In Medical Centers*
  • Contact : MDNow.com


Urgent care centers are the affordable, fast, and convenient alternative to emergency rooms and physician visits.

Main Document

What is an Urgent Care Center?

Urgent care is defined as a category of walk-in clinic focused on the delivery of ambulatory care in a dedicated medical facility outside of a traditional emergency room. Urgent care centers primarily treat injuries or illnesses requiring immediate care, but not serious enough to require an ER visit. The urgent care movement began in the US, but now urgent care centers are an important healthcare delivery component in other countries, including Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.

Minor Medical Emergencies

When faced with minor medical emergencies, patients traditionally only had the choice between heading to a hospital emergency room or a primary care physician's office. But ERs involved very long waits in overburdened facilities and huge bills for treatment. Yet a primary care physician's limited office hours meant waiting weeks for an appointment, along with higher prices for care, little urgent care experience, and few on-site emergency services.

But now when minor injuries and illnesses strike, a growing number of patients choose the more affordable, fast, and convenient care of urgent care centers. MD Now has become the leading urgent care center for non-life-threatening health emergencies in Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties. Recent research outlining the many financial and personal advantages of urgent care centers has been featured in MD Now's new infographic, "4 Reasons Why Urgent Care Centers are Perfect for Little Health Emergencies." It clearly shows why urgent care centers like MD Now are a healthier choice for less-serious medical emergencies.

Urgent care centers have provided high-quality medical care in the US for more than 30 years. Their appeal lies in the convenience of their extended hours, walk-in availability, more affordable costs, fast treatment times, and full range of on-site advanced medical services. All of these have contributed to their popularity, which has led to extraordinary growth, with new locations rapidly opening on a regular basis.

ERs Don't Treat Patients as Well as Urgent Care Centers

MD Now reveals some startling statistics about ERs compared with urgent care centers, including:

  • A trip to the ER can cost six times more than an urgent care center visit for exactly the same service due to much higher staffing costs, overhead expenses, and risks associated with treatment.
  • On average, an ER visit costs $1,354, while an urgent care center self-pay visit only averages $150 to $200.
  • Four hours is the average ER waiting room time, compared to less than one hour at an urgent care center.
  • 71% of ER visits are unneeded, causing patients to waste a great deal of time and money.

Primary Care Physicians Don't Put the Patient's Needs First

According to research, primary care physicians deprive patients of convenient extended hours, urgent care experience, and on-site emergency services. This leaves patients with high bills and weeks of waiting for appointments. In a comparison of trips to primary care physicians and urgent care centers, research revealed:

  • 19.5 days is the average wait time for an appointment with a primary care physician; urgent care centers see patients in under an hour with no appointment necessary.
  • Only 29% of primary care physicians have support staff to see patients beyond regular office hours, while urgent care centers are open 12 hours a day, including evenings, weekends, and holidays.
  • Primary care physicians rarely have urgent care experience or advanced on-site services.
  • Urgent care clinics with a Category 1 certification from the Urgent Care Association of America have a licensed doctor on site at all times, in addition to many of the same on-site capabilities as the ER, such as digital x-rays, ultrasound, lab testing, and EKG.

"Urgent care has gone beyond a mere alternative to hospital ERs and primary care physicians to become the first choice for many patients seeking high-quality medical care for non-life-threatening medical issues," said Peter Lamelas, M.D., CEO of MD Now Urgent Care Centers. "The greater convenience, speed, accessibility, and affordability of urgent care centers like MD Now have resulted in the rapid growth and popularity that is expected to continue in the future."

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