It’s a scene that often plays out in countless emergency rooms: a patient with an immediate medical concern makes a late night trip to the emergency room only to wait and wait, watching minutes turn to hours as they wait for their name to be called and to be seen by an emergency room doctor.
While going to the ER can be a quick fix, those who go could be in for a long wait to see a doctor. The average time spent waiting in the ER increased from 46.5 minutes to 58.1 minutes from 2003 to 2009. Not only are visitors left in physical pain from long waits, they could be left feeling financial pain as well. According to the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, the average ER visitor pays anywhere from $615 to $1,318 per visit.
With the cost of ER visits on the rise and long wait times, urgent care facilities offer patients many options when it comes to finding a quicker and more cost-effective way to be treated. According to the Urgent Care Association of America, an estimated three million patients visit an urgent care facility each week. Currently there are 20,000 physicians practicing urgent care medicine.
Urgent care facilities are essentially a bridge between a walk-in health clinic and the emergency room and there are many benefits of urgent care facilities.
- Roughly 60 percent of all urgent care facilities have a wait time of less than 15 minutes to see a physician or mid-level provider. In addition, 65 percent have a physician on-site at all times.
- The Urgent Care Association of America reports that 57 percent of patients wait 15 minutes or less to be seen and about 80 percent of all visits are 60 minutes or less.
- More than 66 percent of urgent care centers open prior to 9 a.m. during the week and many within that grouping are also open on Saturday and Sunday.
- The majority of centers (90.6 percent) remain open until 7 p.m. or later on weeknights and two out of five are open until 9 p.m. or later.
- Seven in ten urgent care centers can provide IV fluids when needed.
- About 40 percent of urgent care centers use electronic prescription ordering systems and many of them use computerized systems to collect patient data, clinical notes and billing information.
- A physician or a group of physicians owns about 50 percent of urgent care centers, which gives that person or group of people a vested interested in having the facility run to the best of its ability.
The list of symptoms that can be treated at an urgent care is growing with facilities able to treat sports injuries, muscle strain and sprains, asthma, ear infections, dizziness and many other ailments.
Urgent care centers can also help patients with confidential STD testing. Sexually active patients are more at risk for contracting STDs and rather than visiting unfamiliar STD testing centers, urgent care centers offer an alternative option for confidential STD testing.
The stats on STDs are shocking and millions of people contract STDs every year. Urgent care centers offer multiple types of confidential STD testing including testing for HIV (both early detection and antibody tests). Visiting an urgent care center for confidential HIV testing can save you a potentially embarrassing trip to STD testing centers for a very serious medical issue and allows you some privacy as well.
Some of the benefits of STD testing at an urgent care include:
- Receiving same-day, walk-in care
- Being treated discreetly
- Saving time by book appointments online
Sexual health and STD aren’t exactly a shareable subject and at an urgent care center, patients can be assured their trip will likely cost less than a trip to the ER or any number of STD testing centers. Patients can also rest easy knowing that urgent care centers offer treatment for many common STDs and one of the few reasons patients are turned down is if an STD has progressed beyond the prescription treatment stage.
Whether a patients opts for treatment at urgent care centers or STD testing centers, STDCheck.com offers a list of places to get tested.