In 2006, urgent care centres were a new idea that attracted a few thousand people. But, in recent years, many more Americans have been turning to convenient walk-in clinics for medical attention. According to HealthExec, the number of urgent care centres grew by eight percent just between 2017 and 2018. Urgent care centres are typically located in areas that are convenient for large groups of people. They are efficiently run and staffed with doctors, nurses, and medical technicians. Wait times are usually short. While the facilities are designed for emergency care, many patients visit them when they need vaccines, lab tests, and prescription medicines.
Urgent Care Centers Have On-Site Labs
Patients may visit walk-in clinics when they need quick lab results not offered by their primary care physicians. Many doctors’ offices send samples to outside labs that may have backlogs. It is common for patients to wait a week for results. While that may be fine for routine yearly exams, there are times when quick results are important. For example, patients might visit a clinic for a pregnancy test or determine whether they have a serious infection. Clinics can provide important results quickly after an injury. Local employers often send workers to walk-in clinics for drug screening or for evaluations after worksite injuries.
Clinics Offer Preventative Care
The increased use of walk-in clinics does not necessarily indicate that patients are avoiding hospital emergency rooms. Many rely on urgent care centres for routine preventative care needed for their overall well-being. A study referenced in Time Magazine indicates that visits to emergency clinics increased 31% while per-person health care spending rose 14% in the same period. This suggests that more patients are using clinics to get needed care. Urgent care centres routinely provide vaccines, physical exams, flu shots, and cholesterol screenings. They typically provide school and work physical exams. Many offer well-baby checkups in addition to pediatric urgent care. Patients may rely on them for diabetes and TB testing.
Facilities Treat Non-Life-Threatening Emergencies
Local urgent care centres have become the first choice for millions of Americans with non-life-threatening medical emergencies. Facilities are nearby and equipped with high-tech diagnostic equipment. In fact, a recent article in economic publication Business outlines the increasingly advanced technology being used in the centres. Nearly all have x-rays and small surgical facilities. Some offer CT scans, EKGs, and pulmonary function testing machines. There is always a doctor available and clinics offer extended hours. Clinics routinely treat sprains, fractures, allergy reactions, infections, and animal bites. Many local residents get help with rashes, itching, coughs, and cold symptoms.
Doctors Can Provide Medication
Since every urgent care centre includes at least one doctor and several other medical professionals, patients can receive prescriptions during visits. Some clinics offer IV medications. Prescriptions and medications are provided on a case-by-case basis and only after careful assessments. For instance, physicians might provide prescriptions for asthma inhalers, antibiotics, cold symptoms, or high cholesterol. Staff members might also offer medication to relieve common issues like body aches, nausea, headaches, or a sore throat.
Convenient walk-in clinics have become very common in the last decade because they are professionally staffed and provide a range of services. Most offer routine preventative care as well as emergency services. Facilities usually include on-site labs and high-tech diagnostics equipment.