Urgent care centers have become the fastest growing segment in the American healthcare industry, accounting for nearly $14 billion in revenue annually, as the demand for quality, affordable, and convenient healthcare continues. The increasing caseload of primary care physicians has lead to difficulty in scheduling appointments, which translates to longer wait times, and decreased one-on-one time spent with each patient. This is one of the main factors for the surge in urgent care centers and urgent care services across the country. Additionally, urgent care centers continue to gain popularity because they operate on a walk-in basis, and generally have much shorter wait times than an emergency room. Urgent care clinics often have more convenient hours of operation as opposed to a physician’s office.
Urgent care centers provide quality care for medical conditions that are not serious enough to require a trip to the emergency room, but still require immediate medical attention. Some of the common conditions treated at urgent care centers include sprains and strains, upper respiratory illnesses, acute gastrointestinal disorders such as food poisoning, and more serious injuries such as fractures, lacerations, and even concussions. Many urgent care centers also perform lab services such as strep throat testing, and have point-of-care prescription dispensing in order to ensure patients can leave the facility with their prescribed medication without having to make an additional trip to the pharmacy.
Urgent care centers and emergency rooms are designed to provide urgent medical care, and only treat the medical condition at hand. However, primary care physicians are more concerned with overall health and general well being, and have greater understanding and insight as to their patients’ medical history. Therefore it is important to follow up with your primary care physician following a visit to an urgent care center or emergency room. Primary care physician can also refer their patients to a specialist, such as a dermatologist or an allergist, for specific medical conditions that are beyond their scope of practice. This ensures their patients are receiving the best care possible.
It’s important to keep family, friends, and loved ones healthy by encouraging them to visit a primary care physician on a regular basis. Many diseases and medical conditions can be managed and even cured if detected early. Often times, people may have anxiety or reservations in regards to going to the doctor. By referring your primary care doctor to a friend or family member, these fears can often be easily assuaged.