Many people know about urgent care facilities and see the convenience of having a neighborhood health clinic nearby; with more than 6,000 walk in health clinics across the country, you’ve probably visited one of these medical clinics yourself, or you know someone who has. But there are still a surprising number of people who aren’t aware that these outpatient facilities are great alternatives for when you need medical treatment ASAP, but your family care physicians’ offices are closed and your only other option is to visit the hospital emergency room.
Although many urgent care facilities are independently owned and therefore differ quite a bit in the services that they provide, here are just a handful of benefits that apply to medical walk in clinics across the board:
- Walk in medical clinics are definitely an important resource for anyone without health insurance coverage, since many family care physicians won’t see patients without insurance plans and hospital ER visits can quickly add up to thousands of dollars. But urgent care facilities aren’t just more affordable for those without insurance; many clinics also accept a variety of health insurers.
- Even if your neighborhood health clinic isn’t open 24 hours per day, it probably has extended hours of operation beyond what a normal doctor’s office will provide. Additionally, many walk in clinics allow patients to schedule appointments ahead of time — in addition to treating walk in patients — which results in shorter wait times all around.
- In terms of services provided, most urgent care facilities handle both illnesses and injuries that require immediate treatment (but aren’t life-threatening), as well as preventative treatment options and standard lab testing. Whether you need your annual flu shot or you think you’ve sprained your wrist, your local health clinic is equipped to provide treatment.
- A growing number of urgent care facilities have begun expanding their staff in order to accommodate patients quickly, but also to provide specialized care at an affordable cost. Many clinics now employ family care physicians for routine checkups, or have doctors, nurses, and nurse practitioners who specialize in pediatric or women’s health.
- Finally, point-of-care prescription dispensing is another major benefit provided by walk in clinics, effectively eliminating the time it takes to go to the pharmacy while ensuring that prescription medications are prescribed safely. This service varies depending on local laws, so it’s important to know that not every walk in clinic can provide prescriptions — but many of them can!
Now it’s your turn to contribute! If you’ve been to an urgent care clinic before, what was the biggest advantage for you? What questions do you still have about how urgent care facilities operate? Be sure to share any of your questions, experiences, and bits of advice with us and with our readers!