Imagine a place where you can go to get all of your medical concerns taken care of, whether they be urgent medical needs or minor lacerations. When you wonder what to do about abdominal pain or what to do about shortness of breath, you might have thought that the only recourse you had would be to go to the emergency room. In days past, that might very well have been the case, but not anymore. Many cases that used to be treated only in the emergency room are now being able to be treated in the urgent care facilities that are opening up all over the country. They are not only treating these cases, they are doing so at a much more affordable cost to the patient. A case that is treated in the emergency room that could be treated in an urgent care clinic costs roughly, on average, $2,039. If that case were treated in the urgent care clinic in town, the cost wouls be approximate $226 on average. That is almost ten times the amount and the treatment procedures are not compromised, meaning urgent care facilities have the staff and the equipment to handle whatever cases come through their doors. A recent private study by Milliman reported that 44-65% of cases that were treated in the emergency room could have been treated in the urgent care clinic setting. This could have resulted in thousands of dollars being saved for patients involved. Even urgent medical needs that seemed too severe for anything but an ER can be addressed in the urgent care facility. This hasn’t always been the case. In years past, urgent care clinics served as not too much more the triage, preparing a patient for what would eventually be an emergency room visit. Especially when it came to urgent medical needs, urgent care clinics did what they could do and moved the patient on. Today, that is no longer the case. Urgent care clinics all over the country are moving to longer hours and are being staffed, and in many cases even owned, by doctors who have moved their practice to this form of healthcare. Today, there are 20,000 doctors who are practicing urgent care medicine throughout the country. That number is on the rise, as this is proving to be the most cost-effective way for the most people to be seen by a doctor, Whether it is for urgent medical needs or simple procedures like blood testing and checkups. It is true that our healthcare system is going through many different kinds of changes right now and the medical field is all about trying to help as many people as possible. Getting everyone on the same side when it comes to treatments and costs is going to take some time. In the meantime, what is trending throughout the United States is an urgent care system that is setting out to handle emergency care as well as family practice care under one roof. This kind of healthcare setup is becoming known as “convenient care” and is proving to be a very solid model and could be very much a preview of what is going to be the norm in the not too distant future of America.
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