Outpatient care is becoming a popular alternative to inpatient care. Rather than waiting to make an appointment with a primary care physician or spending hours in an emergency room, patients are seeking care at freestanding outpatient clinics. Urgent care clinics in particular can be a more practical alternative to emergency departments — where emergency departments specialize in life- or limb-threatening treatments, urgent care clinics are better suited to treating patients experiencing fevers, sprains, fractures, and other minor concerns.
The popularization of urgent care clinics can also ease overcrowding and long wait times in emergency rooms. Emphasizing the difference in care provision between emergency departments and urgent care clinics can also improve care outcomes by ensuring patients are seen in a timely manner. However, patients in some regions visit emergency departments because they feel they have no other choice. Rural patients may visit an emergency room for treatment of chronic pain or illness for fast relief, particularly if a patient is uninsured or does not have access to transportation.
In the following list, we highlight the urgent care clinics with the largest patient populations. Texas clinics dominated the list, with 8 of the top 25 located in the state. Georgia is the second most-represented state with 3 clinics. Essentia Health System, Memorial Hermann Health System, Next Level Urgent Care, and Edward-Elmhurst Health System all had multiple clinics on the list. Only 2 listed clinics did not belong to a larger network.
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