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Why Walk-in Clinics and Urgent Care Centers are Gaining Popularity

Why Walk-in Clinics and Urgent Care Centers are Gaining Popularity

If you’ve been faced with a health crisis such as a chest cold or an injury that needs attention right away, and having it occur after business hours, your first thought is to go to the emergency room. While they can easily treat you, there are a lot of drawbacks, such as long waits and costly care. With the gaining popularity of urgent care and after-hours walk-in clinics, you can easily get the same care faster and at a fraction of the cost. Here are a few advantages as to why you may wish to choose these facilities over your local hospital for non-emergency services.

Cheaper for the Patient

One of the biggest advantages is that it is often cheaper to visit an urgent care center or doctor’s office as opposed to going to the emergency room. There are many reasons for this, with the biggest one being how insurance bills and reimburses hospitals for their services. Emergency room staff are highly paid because of their expertise, skill, and access to life-saving equipment and medicine. This causes the overall cost of care to rise considerably. In addition, losses of insurance claims and treating patients who don’t pay plays a factor in what you’ll pay for emergency services. The rates for a walk-in appointment are considerably cheaper and more affordable. If you don’t have insurance, haven’t met your deductible, or can’t afford the high co-pay at an emergency room, visiting a clinic is much cheaper.

More Technological Advancement

Urgent care and after-hours clinics are becoming better equipped with technology than ever before. Some clinics offer X-ray services and small surgical units that make it a one-stop-shop for urgent health care matters. They keep costs down because they have more trained office staff that is available and able to perform EKGs, administer medication, and perform specific non-life-threatening treatment to clients.

Many of these clinics have triage units with surgical lights that can address patient needs right away. They also have advanced diagnostic testing that includes X-rays and CT scans located in-house. This means that you can get results sooner, get treated, and get home faster than being in an emergency room. Most of these clinics also have in-house laboratories. Because this is in a smaller setting, there is less time waiting to get test results. The end result is shorter lines, shorter wait times, and a quicker diagnosis.

New Technology Equals More Effective Health Care

So how do you know when to visit the after-hours clinic as opposed to the emergency room? Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I feel like I’m losing or could lose consciousness?
  • Do I have chest pain or severe pain anywhere in my body?
  • Am I bleeding profusely?
  • Am I vomiting profusely?
  • Could I be having a stroke?
  • Am I able to drive myself safely to the doctor?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, don’t hesitate: visit the emergency room or call 911 immediately. With advancements in technology, such as innovative monitoring systems, many walk-in clinics can provide hospital-like care in a more relaxed medical setting. Monitoring systems can be portable and used on patients to provide exact specifications of:

  • Oxygen saturation
  • Heart rate and blood pressure monitoring
  • Respiration supervision

This is a great tool for small clinics to have so that they can attract more patients while offering effective and efficient health care services. Combined monitors are also widely used in doctors’ offices and clinics. This makes it easier for the medical assistant or nurse to take and record vitals and get accurate results. Monitors that are connected to a coordinated chart system not only improve accuracy and reduce errors, they also save time for the entire clinical staff.

Locations and Interdisciplinary Care

Another advantage of visiting a walk-in or after-hours clinic is that most of their chart systems are interconnected. This means that if your doctor’s office is closed and you have an urgent medical matter, but not quite significant enough to visit the emergency room, you can rest assured you’ll get thorough care at a walk-in clinic. This is because most fall under the same umbrella of health system doctors. Most hospitals are linked to local clinics and doctors’ offices, so therefore all of your health information is instantly available for them to review. Any tests you get at the after-hours clinic will automatically be forwarded to your family doctor for alerts and attention. This allows an interdisciplinary team of healthcare pros to work on your case and provide you with the best immediate care as well as follow-up attention to your medical needs. Most clinic locations are scattered throughout the country, so no matter where you live, you can have access to good, around-the-clock medical care.

Don’t hold off visiting the after-hours clinic if you’re feeling ill just because you feel they can’t treat you properly. New technology and interdisciplinary health care make it easier to meet your overall urgent health care needs.

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by Rebecca Jones // Contributor to Businessing Magazine.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.