While urgent care centers typically offer hundreds of medical services, they do not perform surgery and are not equipped to deal with life-threatening emergencies. In most cases, a doctor is on site, although care may be provided by a nurse or physician assistant who is also on staff. Many centers are busiest in the evenings and on weekends, when most doctors’ offices are closed.
In the past, at least some of the patients who now go to urgent care centers would have ended up in hospital emergency rooms. While the typical $100 visit to a center is comparable in price to a visit to a doctor’s office, an emergency room visit can cost more than twice as much. A 2010 Rand Corp. study found that almost one in five visits to hospital emergency rooms could be treated at urgent care centers, potentially saving $4.4 billion annually in health-care costs.
Better customer service (because of late hours and quick appointments) and lower price. What’s not to like? I think the increase in urgent care centers is a very good thing for American healthcare.