Urgent care facilities have played a vital role in shaping the healthcare industry for decades. In the United States alone, the total number of walk-in clinic visits has increased by 58%, with more than half of these cases attributed to COVID-related issues, vaccination, and minor emergencies.
However, as the need for these services increased, so did the demand for resources and staff. Unfortunately, some clinics couldn’t keep up and were forced to close their doors. However, this also helped transition urgent care facilities to improve their operations to ensure high-quality patient service.
Urgent Care vs. Emergency Rooms
Urgent care clinics are walk-in facility that provides services to patients who need immediate medical attention but don’t require emergency care or hospitalization. They usually treat minor injuries and illnesses but can also provide more serious treatment if necessary.
In addition, they offer quick and affordable assistance, which makes them more favorable for most people.
These centers are also staffed with trained medical assistants, social workers, and other healthcare professionals to provide more comprehensive services.
However, they are not intended to replace a doctor’s office or an emergency room visit. In fact, patients who visit urgent care clinics are almost always encouraged to make follow-up appointments with their primary care doctor.
Perhaps the main difference between urgent care centers and emergency rooms is their approaches. For example, urgent care facilities tend to be more community-oriented, whereas emergency rooms focus on providing the best possible treatment for their patients.
In addition, urgent care centers tend to have a more limited number of beds than emergency rooms. Thus, if you need serious medical attention, the latter is your go-to.
Why Do More Patients Prefer Urgent Care Clinics?
Urgent care clinics can provide medical attention to patients more efficiently and cost-effectively. In addition, the fact that they treat a wide range of medical conditions makes them an ideal option for people who have limited access to healthcare and health insurance.
These clinics are also more convenient and accessible to patients on any day. In some cases, they may even perform simple diagnostic tests and administer medication depending on the patient’s needs.
As these clinics are relatively small, they can provide a high level of personalized attention. In addition, they can also see a large number of patients in a short amount of time, which allows them to provide high-quality care at a lower cost than other health care options.
The Healthcare Crisis
On more than one occasion, state healthcare leaders have warned of severe consequences for failing to maintain adequate access to care. The pandemic has further amplified this need as it placed a significant strain on the country’s healthcare system, proving the invaluable role of urgent and mass healthcare in public health crises.
But with less money set aside for healthcare, states were forced to cut back on staffing, which led to longer wait times and less access to care.
Now faced with the increased aging population, chronic diseases, and declining life expectancy, the need for better access to health care is even greater. With these factors combined and the ever-present risk of political instability, it is no surprise that the desire for better access to health care has only continued to grow.
The Rise of Urgent Care
In the face of growing healthcare costs and overwhelmed hospital facilities, the urgent care industry has become a vital resource for most Americans. The industry has since seen tremendous growth and is projected to expand at more than 10% over the next decade.
This growth stems from increased demand for healthcare services, particularly in rural areas where access to traditional healthcare facilities is limited.
At present, several urgent care centers are situated in an accessible location for better patient base reach. Additionally, these facilities have benefited from increased utilization of telehealth services and at-home visits by healthcare professionals.
The rise of urgent care centers has also led some states to expand existing programs by providing more access to welfare and Medicaid patients.
Urgent Care Clinics amidst Covid
Urgent care clinics have significantly expanded their reach, especially during the pandemic. These facilities have been used to treat patients with various ailments, including the flu, minor injuries, and even chronic conditions.
They’ve also provided healthcare services in a timely and efficient way without sacrificing the patient’s health and safety. In fact, it was reported that over 90% of patients diagnosed with coronavirus were treated within 4 hours of their initial visit.
It is also noted that many urgent care facilities have been used as a primary place for immunization services due to the short wait time.
How Can Urgent Care Clinics Retain Patients?
Despite the positive impacts of urgent care clinics, medical workers should continue to improve their services to ensure customer retention. The best way to do this is by taking advantage of the surge of new patient sign-ups as the pandemic continues to mutate and create new virus strains.
For example, building strategic partnerships will help nurture connections and provide patients with the best care possible.
Urgent care clinics can also establish a welcoming environment for patients by communicating with them effectively. This will also ensure that patient information is passed on correctly and that everybody receives adequate attention and access to all necessary medication.
They should also take this time to prepare and implement their contingency plans in case of another pandemic outbreak.
In addition, health facilities should also continually improve their systems to provide appropriate medical services when needed.
This can be accomplished by using electronic medical records (EMR), which will allow patients to have access to their medical histories, appointments, and lab results. EMR also helps ensure that appropriate follow-up is conducted after a patient has visited an urgent care clinic.
What’s Next for Urgent Care?
In the face of rising demand and a shrinking supply, the need for urgent care is evident. However, there are a few things consumers should keep in mind.
First, you don’t need a primary care provider or an emergency room referral to receive urgent care services. Most urgent care centers are open 7 days a week, so you can go at your convenience.
Second, although care clinics are convenient and available, they’re not intended to replace the more extreme care provided by a doctor. So, if you have a severe medical problem that requires a hospital stay, don’t attempt to treat it at home.
As the nation’s access to healthcare continues to face unprecedented problems, there is a growing demand among consumers for solutions that provide them with more flexibility while maintaining quality patient outcomes.
This includes developing facilities that combine aspects of both emergency rooms and urgent care centers to provide more comprehensive treatment.
Moreover, the future of urgent care requires technology that can drive greater efficiency in service delivery and enable the development of new, more personalized health care experiences for patients.
They may consider delivering healthcare needs via telemedicine, be it paying bills, conducting check-ups, and other types of treatment. These technologies will help urgent care centers provide faster, more precise care, resulting in better outcomes and lower hospital billings.
Indeed, the digital transformation in healthcare is happening fast, and providers need to keep up with these changes.
However, these technological advances also mean that the digital brand must be consistent across the board. For example, consumers need to know that if they look at a clinic’s website, they are the same as the one they visited in person.
In addition, these digital conveniences will make it easier for consumers to shop for healthcare, leading to greater competition for providers to keep their clients, resulting in greater efficiency in the system.
The Future of Urgent Care in Connecticut
As the demand for urgent care services continues to grow, so will the need for more urgent care centers in Connecticut. The good news is that while this is the case, there have been some recent developments that show signs of potential growth in the state.
For example, in 2010, the state legislature passed the Affordable Care Act that allowed for the operation of urgent care clinics mandating inexpensive healthcare across the state.
This provides consumers with additional options for receiving comprehensive medical treatment, convenience, and flexibility. So, if you’re looking for an urgent care clinic near you, consider visiting Doc’s Urgent Care to book an appointment with a specialist today.
The future of healthcare innovation is bright, and urgent care is one of the most promising areas of exploration. As the consumerization of healthcare changes the status quo, urgent care becomes more critical to keep people healthy and connected to their communities.
However, we still need a lot of work to educate the public on the value of urgent care. Nevertheless, with the right mindset and a little help from technology, Urgent Care can be the best place for your healthcare needs from here on forward.