Why More Urgent Care Centers Are Suddenly Opening Nationwide

More urgent care centers are opening up nationwide to increase affordable healthcare accessibility.

By Ryan Clancy | Updated

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The number of urgent care centers in America is increasing rapidly These centers deal with non-emergency conditions or ailments such as minor infections. They can be used if patients cannot get an appointment with their own doctor, if they do not have a doctor, or if they need to see a doctor outside of typical business hours. 

With every ailment, your personal doctor could be contacted initially, as they have access to the patient’s entire medical history; if there is no availability, then an urgent care center can be used. 

Within urgent medical care centers, the staff consists primarily of doctor assistants and nurses; sometimes, a doctor is also present. In 2009, 70 percent of urgent care center staff were doctors, but this has dropped to 16 percent. This drop is due to the pandemic, as the doctors need to be in hospitals. 

These centers have become more popular due to their convenience, difficulty getting a doctor’s appointment, and the cost of primary medical care or emergency rooms. This sector of the business market has grown by 21 percent since 2019 and is now thought to be valued at $48 billion. 

This growth in private urgent care centers shows the gap in the American healthcare system that the public clearly needs to be covered. Over the next 10 years, it is predicted that there will be a shortage of over 50,000 doctors, which is a scary concept.

While these urgent care centers initially take the pressure off doctors, it also has some adverse effects. The most prominent is that it weakens the relationship between the patients and their assigned doctor. Frequently not seeing their original doctor can lead to fragmented or lower standard care, as their medical records are scattered. This could cause a higher medical bill in the long run. 

Also, along with fragmented care, some experts are concerned about the standard of care that people receive in these centers. Research has shown that antibiotics are frequently overprescribed, especially for viral infections and common colds. 

Even though urgent care centers have been open since the 1970s, they have become more prevalent in recent years due to the healthcare system becoming overwhelmed, especially during the pandemic. The convenience of being open longer hours and weekends is also something that is proving more popular with citizens. 

Health insurance companies and hospitals are also pushing these centers, as they want people to stay out of hospitals unless they genuinely need it. This way, insurance companies aren’t billed unnecessarily, and doctors aren’t seeing patients that do not require their expertise.

Urgent healthcare visits increased by 119 percent in an eight-year period, as people decided to use these facilities for various non-emergency ailments. So, it seems the health insurance companies and hospitals are getting the relief they need. 

Urgent care centers are excellent facilities if you have a non-emergency medical issue that needs to be seen by a medical professional. It relieves the emergency rooms in hospitals and is a cheap option. They have their place in the modern healthcare system. As long as people try to see their primary healthcare physician first, it is essential to keep a complete medical record just in case it is needed.