Urgent Care Centers

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Urgent Care Centers​

​Defined as “healthcare provided on a walk‐in, no‐appointment basis for acute illness or injury that is not life or limb threatening, and is either beyond the scope or availability of the typical primary care practice or retail clinic” urgent care centers (UCCs) are typically staffed by physicians, have x-ray and (stat) lab equipment, and can perform minor procedures such as suturing and bone casts. The range of services, as well as staffing levels may vary by location. UCCs represent an alternative to emergency departments as well as to physician offices, which have limited accessibility, especially on nights and weekends. Urgent Care centers are branded under multiple terms including: urgent care, immediate care, walk-in care and convenient care.

National estimates on the number of dedicated urgent care center settings are broad and range from 4,000 to 9,000 urgent care centers, according to the Urgent Care Association of America. These same studies estimate between 70 and 160 million urgent care center visits per year, or the equivalent of 17,750 visits/center (48.6/day). The UCAOA indicates that there are 6,400 urgent care centers in the United States. Ownership of Urgent Care centers has been historically led by local physicians/physician groups (35%) and hospitals (25%), although in recent years small number of private for-profit entities have grown rapidly.  To view this report in full go to A Case for Retail Healthcare.

AAP Resources: Urgent Care Centers:

Urgent Care Facilities Can Supplement, But Not Replace the Medical Home
Freestanding urgent care facilities are a growing, important source of pediatric health care in many communities. In an updated policy statement in the April 2014 issue of Pediatrics, “Pediatric Care Recommendations for Freestanding Urgent Care Facilities” (published online April 28), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) makes several recommendations for how urgent care providers can optimize their care for children, while maintaining the highest standards of care. 

Child Care Policies May Increase Urgent Care Visits
Working parents or parents enrolled in school may resort to emergency departments or urgent care center visits in order to get children back into child care, according to a study in the July 2014 Pediatrics. The study, “Emergency Department and Urgent Care for Children Excluded from Child Care” published online June 23, assessed the impact that a child’s illness might have on parents’ need for urgent medical care evaluations. 

Pediatric Care Recommendations for Freestanding Urgent Care Facilities
Treatment of children at freestanding urgent care facilities has become common in pediatric health care. Well-managed freestanding urgent care facilities can improve the health of the children in their communities, integrate into the medical community, and provide a safe, effective adjunct to, but not a replacement for, the medical home or emergency department. Recommendations are provided for optimizing freestanding urgent care facilities’ quality, communication, and collaboration in caring for children.​

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