Urgent Care Association Hopes Report Sparks Dialogue
The number of patients using urgent care centers in the U.S. continues to grow, but urgent care factors little in the national discussion about healthcare. The Urgent Care Association of America aims to change that with new research.
If you’re feeling ill and can’t get an appointment with your doctor’s office or don’t want to wait in long lines at the emergency room, you’re likely to visit one of the country’s more than 8,700 urgent care centers, which continue to see an increase in patients.
This is according to the recently released 2012 Urgent Care Benchmarking Results survey conducted by the Urgent Care Association of America (UCAOA).
The survey found the average number of visits per day to urgent care centers in the U.S. is up slightly from 2010 by three individuals per day. The report also found that overall visitor flow to these centers remains largely steady throughout the year, with visits peaking in March and October. The greatest number of patients come from the 23-49 age group, and urgent care center patients are split roughly 50-50 male and female.
The survey data reflects the growing trend of urgent care in the healthcare industry—the UCAOA estimates that roughly 300 urgent care centers open every year throughout the country—yet this type of care is not a major player in national healthcare policy, the association reported in an earlier white paper.
“Urgent care centers are now so numerous and so well‐positioned in the U.S. to assist the nation’s emergency departments and primary care system, that it is surprising not to see them included in virtually any discussions of healthcare reform,” UCAOA said.
The white paper calls for better recognition of the role urgent care plays in the healthcare industry, a goal the association hopes to accomplish with the biennial benchmarking survey.
The survey “is intended as a catalyst to spark dialogue on a national basis in order to determine what the results teach us and how we might implement them into a larger continuous quality improvement program for urgent care centers and industry in order to lead to enhanced outcomes and patient experience,” the association said in a statement.
The benchmarking survey also includes data on trends in visits; average annual revenue, expenses, and marketing budgets; staffing strategies; average wait times; and average charge and reimbursement numbers.