It’s been the contention of the urgent care industry for a long time that patients who do not have truly emergent complaints should not be in the emergency room, where they’re likely to face long waits and incur greater costs than they need to. For those patients, urgent care centers are the more sensible option. Data showing a link between the available of urgent care and reduced ED traffic were slow in coming, but over time have borne that out. The latest confirmative data set comes from a study by Mesirow Investment Banking’s Healthcare Sector Report, which reveals that the existence of urgent care centers in a zip code reduces visits to local emergency rooms by 17%. Further, the report says, “UCCs reduced the total number of uninsured and Medicaid visits to the ED by 21% and 29%,” respectively. While not covered in the report, it’s also worth mentioning that at a time when some hospital systems are scaling back services—in some extreme cases, ceasing to offer acute care and shutting down their emergency rooms—urgent care centers can provide care when otherwise it might not be available at all without traveling to another community.
New Data Reinforce the Case: Urgent Care Reduces Emergency Room Traffic