The Role of Urgent Care and Patient Volume

Urgent Care has become a crucial component of the healthcare landscape, serving as a vital bridge between primary care and emergency services. As referenced in this article from the Advisory Board, a staggering one third of all Emergency Department presentations are deemed inappropriate, underscoring the critical role Urgent Care plays in redirecting non-emergent cases away from emergency rooms.

Urgent Care centers contribute to preventing an estimated 24.5 million emergency room visits annually. This not only alleviates the strain on emergency departments but also translates into significant time and cost savings for both patients and the healthcare system as a whole.

The impact of Urgent Care centers on the broader healthcare ecosystem is further emphasized by a National Library of Medicine study, revealing a 17.2 percent reduction in emergency department visits in areas where Urgent Care centers are available. These centers play a pivotal role in reducing the number of uninsured and Medicaid visits to emergency departments by more than 20 percent, contributing to a more efficient and equitable distribution of healthcare resources.

While a third of ED visits are for non-emergencies, the significance of this figure becomes even more pronounced when one considers that only 18.6 million ED visits result in hospital admission each year, shedding light on the unnecessary strain on emergency services. Urgent Care centers, by efficiently catering to non-emergent cases, are instrumental in addressing this issue and ensuring that emergency resources are reserved for those truly in need.

The scope of services provided by Urgent Care centers extends beyond mere redirection of cases. These centers serve as comprehensive healthcare hubs, offering evaluations across all age groups, from pediatric to geriatric. Urgent Care facilities are equipped with on-site diagnostic capabilities, including imaging and laboratory tests, facilitating prompt and accurate assessments of patients’ conditions. The availability of pre-packaged medications at these centers ensures that patients can promptly access a variety of routine and generic drugs without the need for a separate visit to an off-site pharmacy.

Unlike traditional healthcare services, Urgent Care centers are purposefully designed, staffed, and equipped for optimal efficiency and seamless patient flow. The ability of these centers to handle substantial patient volumes is evident in a recent Urgent Care Association member ListServ discussion, revealing that several Urgent Care centers are managing an average of 120 patients per center per day.

Testimonials from different centers indicate that patient counts can fluctuate, reaching as high as 170+ on busy days. This showcases the adaptability and responsiveness of Urgent Care centers to the dynamic healthcare needs of their communities.

As healthcare systems continue to evolve, the role of Urgent Care in optimizing resource allocation and enhancing patient outcomes is bound to become even more pronounced.


From Our Members:

“Our current average daily census is 121 patients. We often see 150-160 patients on busy days with a current record of 176.”


“One [center] averages 120 though range 110-150 with some times during winter up to 170s+ day. Other clinic is between 40-65…. Total time in clinic usually 30 minutes to 45 minutes…If higher acuity longer.”