5 facts about urgent care that matter to NC residents

imagesBy Toni J. Eberhardt
Health insurance plans are focusing attention on educating consumers as to when to use an urgent care.  Why?  Because the cost of healthcare is rising, and some of it is due to unnecessary use of emergency rooms.  Texas has experienced a concerning shortage of ER physicians, so helping to educate consumers about when to use an urgent care vs. an ER is a timely and relevant new story.
Did you know?

  • Urgent care wait times are about ¼ that of an ER (1 hour vs. 4 hours on average)
  • Urgent care costs are 1/7 that of ERs ($200 vs. $1400 average cost per visit)

The American Journal of Managed Care recently published an article, “5 Facts About Urgent Care.” A couple of these facts are particularly relevant in North Carolina.  As FastMed Urgent Care is the fastest growing and one of the largest urgent care operators in the U.S. and has 57 of its more than 100 clinics in North Carolina, we wanted to share this information with our neighbors.

Urgent care clinics are not the same as retail clinics (like those found in Walgreen’s of CVS Pharmacy) .

Retail clinics are walk-in clinics that treat uncomplicated minor illnesses and can provide preventive services. Urgent care clinics treat different issues.

Urgent care clinics are also walk-in clinics, but they focus on treating injuries or illnesses that require immediate care, but should not require an emergency room (ER) visit. FastMed Urgent Care locations are open seven days per week, including evenings.  FastMed Urgent Care also provides similar preventive care services such as sports or pre-activity physicals and flu shots.

  1. Urgent care clinics reduce unnecessary emergency room (“ER”) visits.

Patients can save time and money going to an urgent care vs. the ER for non-emergent and/or life-threatening illnesses or injuries.  At FastMed Urgent Care, for example, the average wait time is one hour vs. up to four hours in an ER, and the cost is about 1/7 of the ER.

  1. Urgent care doctors can prescribe most medicines, but not all.
    Urgent care providers can prescribe the medications needed to treat patients they diagnose; they cannot, however, prescribe narcotics.  As well, FastMed Urgent Care has on-site prescription distribution for theirpatients and also offer a pharmacy discount card, which can save patients up to 70% at pharmacies nationwide.
  2. Millennials are choosing urgent care over primary care.
    According to Forbes magazine, Raleigh and Charlotte are among the top 15 cities leading the way in population growth of millennials nationally.
  3. Urgent care is not a replacement for primary care
    Urgent care is a great resource for same day care, especially when a person’s primary care provider cannot offer a same day appointment.  FastMed Urgent Care providers can send patients’ medical records to their primary care provider (with the patient’s signed permission) for appropriate follow-up.

Toni J. Eberhardt is the Vice President of Marketing & Public Relations for FastMed Urgent Care.