Most people have had the experience of needing some kind of health care when their doctor’s office is closed. Whether you have sprained an ankle on the tennis court on Saturday morning or your sore throat is only getting worse and you cannot get in to see your primary care doctor. Until recently, people did not have many choices other than to go to the local hospital’s emergency room. Luckily, that is not the only available option today. Here are some reasons you should consider getting your treatment at the nearby urgent care center rather than paying a visit to the emergency room at the local hospital:

  1. It is a lot less stressful. When you go to the emergency room, the time you have to wait to receive any kind of healthcare depends on a number of factors. First of all, the most serious cases are seen first. In a way, you are competing with the other people who have arrived at the local hospital. In addition to that, there are always ambulances coming and going. All emergencies are often beehives of activity. Hospitals are always noisy places and the emergency departments are the worst. Unless you have a dire emergency, this is not the place you want to be.
  2. It takes a lot less time. Despite the fact that more and more people are turning to urgent care centers to get medical treatment after hours and on the weekend, there are still fewer people at urgent care centers than at the local hospital. When you are in the emergency room, you may be made to wait hours and hours before you are even seen by a medical professional. According to the Urgent Care Association of America, most people are seen by a trained medical professional within about 15 minutes of their arrival and are in and out in about an hour.
  3. You can make an appointment. While urgent care centers are also walk in clinics, if you know you need help in advance, you can make an appointment. Many urgent care clinics allow patients to make appointments online to let them get in and out quicker and more efficiently than if they just walked in.
  4. It is a lot cheaper than the emergency room. It is a well-known fact that the care received in an emergency room is amazing but it is also the single most expensive way to get healthcare. When urgent care centers first came on the scene, the concept was not embraced by most health insurance carriers but they have come around. There is often still a copayment due when you receive medical services but it is a lot lower than what will be required at the local hospital.
  5. You are part of the solution and not part of the problem. One problem that faces most emergency rooms is the number of people seeking care there who are not having a medical emergency. It has been estimated that about 25,000 people sprain their ankle every day. Each year, in the United States, there are about one billion colds diagnosed. These are great examples of people who may need to get some kind of medical care before they are able to get to their primary care doctor’s office but who are not experiencing an emergency. These people could be better served by going to an urgent care center than going to the local hospital for help.

Healthcare in the United States is a complicated business. The reason urgent care centers were developed was to help people who need to be able to get healthcare on their schedule. They may not be able to wait or cannot go to a doctor’s appointment during normal business hours. When a few emergency room doctor’s realized they were seeing people who could be better served at a clinic rather than in the emergency room, the concept was born.

Since the 1980s, urgent care clinics have popped up all over the country. These get people the care they need and deserve when they can use it. They can save the entire health care system save a lot of money and improve the quality of care.