Same-day ambulatory healthcare services are the hallmark of urgent care (UC). Because UC clinicians care for a wide range of conditions and injuries, they need to be proficient in a broad scope of immediate intervention services.
In its latest white paper, the Urgent Care Association (UCA) noted that more organizations are moving to a staffing model with nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs) serving as the primary providers on-site, rather than physicians. This model grew from 54.4% in 2019 to 71.6% in 2022—a 31% increase. UCA attributes the change to federal and state policies enacted during the pandemic that authorized more midlevel providers to have full practice authority.1 More than half of states allow full practice authority for NPs currently.2
In terms of patient populations, UC centers are generally equipped
to manage adults, children, and infants. Even pregnant moms can be seen in the urgent care with many centers capable of conducting point-of-care tests for common conditions that may come along with pregnancy.
UCA maintains a detailed definition to describe the nature of the medical services offered at UC centers, which includes, for example, radiology and labs. In its white paper, UCA also offers a glimpse into the specifics of service lines offered across the industry, as collected in the association’s benchmarking survey.
Further, UCA categorizes centers’ capabilities according to acuity. Nearly 69% of centers surveyed rely on traditional urgent care services, while 10.3% specialize in high acuity, and 8% are exclusively pediatric urgent care providers. Another 5.1% are a combination of urgent and primary care.1
Julie Miller is Managing Editor of The Journal of Urgent Care Medicine.
1 Urgent Care Association. Urgent Care Industry White Paper, The Essential Nature Of Urgent Care In The Healthcare Ecosystem Post-Covid-19. August 2023. https://bit.ly/3RRxwKq. Accessed October 10, 2023.
2 American Association of Nurse Practitioners. State Practice Environment. Accessed October 26, 2023 at https://www.aanp.org/advocacy/state/state-practice-environment