The History Of Urgent Care Centers


In the United States, there has been an evolution of the healthcare system over time. In more recent years, as emergency departments and doctor’s offices have begun to be overwhelmed with a never-ending influx of new patients, urgent care centers have entered the healthcare scene to help fill the gap. 


The Urgent Care System Begins

The first urgent care centers began to open in the 1970s in the United States. They were largely being opened by emergency medical physicians who recognized specific gaps in the medical system. These physicians believed they could capitalize on an opportunity to provide a more effective and efficient healthcare product. The doctors recognized that there was a need for walk-in medical centers and that patients needed to see a medical professional who had the same verifications and qualifications as their normal physician. This was when the urgent care system began to take hold. In the beginning, urgent care doctors only provided basic care for colds, aches, and any other minor illnesses.

In addition to providing a benefit to the patients, the urgent care centers also began to serve as a new path for any doctors who wanted to leave the normal line of healthcare. Many doctors felt bogged down by the hassles of dealing with the administrative responsibilities and paperwork that many traditional clinics used. Since many of the urgent care centers are walk-in clinics, doctors have largely been able to avoid these administrative hassles.

Insurance companies also worked to prop up the urgent care system. Many insurance companies were eager for potential patients to avoid attending the emergency room whenever possible. As a result, insurance companies were quick to set up alliances with urgent care clinics and allow their customers to receive treatment of multiple kinds at urgent care clinics.

The Expansion Of Urgent Care Centers

Since urgent care clinics began, they have expanded quickly. The United States is now home to more than 10,000 clinics. As the number of urgent care centers have expanded, so have the number of treatment options that they offer. Unlike in the 1970s, clinics now offer a wide array of options to treat patients.

Urgent care clinics can now treat patients with cuts, burns, sprains, bites, allergies, sinus infections, and many more. Some urgent care centers are also beginning to act more as a regular physician’s office. Instead of only offering walk-ins, these clinics allow patients to set up regular visits for check-ups. Many of these centers offer annual check-ups or nutritional guidance for their patients.

With urgent care centers beginning to offer more services for patients on an ongoing basis, many of them are also starting to have children as more regular patients. Many clinics hire a large number of family doctors who have special training to make children feel more comfortable while they’re in the office. With centers allowing advance appointments to be made, parents can also ensure that children will routinely be seeing the same doctor when at the clinic. This can also help children feel more comfortable about going to the doctor overall. Lastly, urgent care centers tend to offer longer office hours than most regular physicians and this can be helpful for parents who cannot take off work to take their child for a check-up. Most urgent care centers are open seven days a week. Often times, these centers are open for twelve hours a day.

Freestanding Emergency Rooms

As there has been a growth of urgent care centers in the healthcare system over the last several decades, there has also been a surge in the number of freestanding emergency rooms that are available in the United States. As many hospitals recognized that there was a gap in the healthcare they were providing- since most people who did not have a life-threatening illness did not want to spend hours waiting for treatment in an emergency room- hospitals also began to provide an alternative to the care of emergency rooms. Freestanding emergency rooms serve as a cross between an emergency room and an urgent care center. Since most urgent care centers offer the same services as regular doctor’s offices, some illnesses or medical issues were still not considered as life-threatening but required a higher level of medical attention.

Freestanding emergency rooms are not affiliated with a hospital. When a patient walks into the clinic, the nurse they see will then determine if the patient needs to go to the emergency room or if they can be treated at the clinic. This medical option is currently growing in popularity and is now in 35 states.

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The History Of Urgent Care Centers
In the United States, there has been an evolution of the healthcare system over time.
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