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5 surprising trends in urgent care

Patients are seeing new things in health care.

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Urgent care centers are a relatively new option, featuring convenient hours and lower costs than the ER.

Compared to primary care physicians and the emergency room, urgent care centers are a relatively new option, featuring convenient hours, like weekend and evenings, and lower costs than the ER. As this type of on-demand medical care grows in popularity, these urgent care clinics are responding with updated offerings to better serve health care consumers. Here are five of the trends patients are seeing in this area of health care.

Improvement of the patient experience

As more urgent care facilities sprout up and their prominence in the health care landscape increases, more of these centers are working hard to entice new patients. From convenient online scheduling to valet parking and relaxing, comfortable lobbies, urgent care offices are going above and beyond to lure and retain customers. Many will even call the next day to follow up on your treatment and see how you’re feeling.

New service types

Urgent care clinics are updating their service offerings to include new services that meet customer demand. These non-acute and continuing care needs include occupational medicine, telehealth, physical therapy, weight loss and nutrition and skin care. No longer will you have to find a specialist — or be referred to one after going to your primary care physician first — you’ll be able to find these services at urgent care centers.

Many urgent care centers work hand-in-hand with your primary physician to ensure a continuity of care.

Collaboration with your primary doctor

If you are seen by an urgent care clinic over the weekend for flu and given instructions to follow up with your general practitioner, fear not. Today, many urgent care centers work hand-in-hand with your primary physician to ensure continuity of care. Offering this convenience to patients not only saves them time, but benefits their health, as well.

Price transparency

In order to be competitive, many urgent care clinics are developing “retail pricing.” This means developing clear and consistent pricing strategies for particular services. Just as you might compare three electronics stores for the best price on a certain TV, some urgent care centers are making it easy to compare the cost of a physical, for example, to other centers with upfront, transparent pricing.

Replacement of primary care physicians

Many health care consumers, deterred by the wait times required to be seen by their primary physicians, are turning to urgent care for routine matters. In fact, experts say that many Millennial and Generation Z members will only use urgent care facilities for non-emergency health care needs.

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Members of the editorial and news staff of the USA TODAY Network were not involved in the creation of this content.