The Utah Department of Health specifically called out greater utilization of urgent care as a key factor in reducing emergency room visits across the state—along with a corresponding decrease in associated costs, of course. While the report did not put a dollar amount on the savings, it does note that an average trip to the ED in the state costs five-and-a-half times more than an urgent care visit. Since the state DoH reports that around 18 million ED visits are “avoidable” every year, the savings are clearly substantial. Between 2016 and 2018, use of urgent care facilities grew 5.5% in Utah, while ED visits fell 7.3%. Telehealth also played a role; its utilization grew 1.8% during the study period. Utah, in general, is an interesting example to consider in that its predominant hospital system owns roughly 30 urgent care centers, with most of them located in areas populated by around two-third of Utahns reside. The fact that most of those locations are within 15 minutes of each other makes load balancing relatively convenient.
Urgent Care Leads the Way in Reducing ED Visits in Utah