The United States needs more physicians to address the medical needs of existing Americans. Additional physicians are also needed to accommodate the country’s growing population. The Association of American Medical Colleges projects that while over 90,000 more physicians will be needed by 2020, 130,000 more will be required by 2025. According to research discussed in the article, “Projecting U.S. PrimaryCare Physician Workforce Needs: 2010-2025,” in order to provide for the United States’ health care utilization needs, nearly 52,000 more primary care physicians will specifically be needed by 2025.
Urgent care medicine is a growing specialty, however. Currently, there are 20,000 physicians that practice this important branch of medicine. Urgent care centers tend to be owned by a physician or physicians’ group. This applies to roughly half of these centers. It’s important to note that the average urgent care center experienced an increase in the number of patients they treated every month. In 2011, for example, the Urgent Care Association of America indicated that these centers have treated 342 patients a week since that time. This amounts to 28 new patients a month.
Given that Americans tend to visit traditional hospital emergency rooms because they’re open throughout the entire week, there are approximately 110 million of these visits on an annual basis. This amounts to a 22% increase over the last decade alone. In order to reduce this American reliance on traditional emergency room care, they need to be better informed on convenient care alternatives.
When individuals and their families visit a traditional hospital emergency room for an issue that could be treated at an urgent care clinic, they are also paying a much greater price for treatment. To draw a comparison, an urgent-care treatable case would cost an average of $2,039.00 when handled at a traditional emergency room. When treated at an urgent care clinic instead, however, they would pay an approximate average of $226.00. This is definitely a considerable cost differential.
It’s possible that many individuals seek treatment at a traditional hospital emergency room because they have consumer-sponsored insurance. A Truven Health Analytics report, for example, showed that over 70% of the visits to traditional emergency departments could have been handled or easily prevented by patients obtaining simple outpatient care. In other words, these were non-emergency conditions. A private study that was conducted by Milliman also found that a large percentage of issues could have been treated at an urgent care clinic. When considering their analysis of emergency room visits, roughly 44% to 65% were determined to be non-emergency issues.
If you’re searching for 24 hour urgent care locations, you may want to consider a center that provides a combination of emergency services and urgent care. When you or your family become ill with the flu, a severe headache, shortness of breath, or another medical issue, convenient care is a welcome option at 24 hour urgent care locations. Since these 24 hour urgent care locations have both emergency-trained and urgent care physicians under the same roof, when a medical issue is determined to be emergency in nature, this can be handled accordingly.
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