Taking care of your health is a responsibility we all have. You need to eat healthy, exercise, and take care of your mental health as much as possible. You need to stay in contact with your doctor and visit regularly. Unfortunately, sometimes a serious issue can arise with your health and you’ll need immediate care — that’s where urgent care centers come in. When it comes to the general public, there are a few misconceptions surrounding urgent care treatment.

Here are some of the most common myths surrounding urgent care medical centers:

Only for evening and weekend treatment

For some reason, many people believe that urgent care facilities are only available for treatment after work and on weekends. The majority of these medical centers, however, are open during the day, as well. This is great for patients who need fast, convenient, and affordable healthcare in the early hours of the day, during the evening, and on weekends.

Expensive form of medical care

Actually, it costs much less to receive medical care at an urgent care facility than it does to visit an emergency room. Usually, most patients will only have to cover their standard copay for an office visit and their insurance provider will cover any additional urgent care center expenses. The median cost of a trip to the emergency room is about $1,233 per visit — walking into an urgent care center shouldn’t come close to that amount.

You need an appointment to receive care

On the contrary, you don’t have to schedule an appointment or even call to receive treatment — simply walk right in and you’ll be tended to shortly. The majority of urgent care centers in the U.S. offer same-day appointments or welcome walk-ins sans appointment.

You need to be a current patient

Urgent care facilities that are affiliated with general family practices do not require any form of pre-registration in order to take advantage of their medical services. This type of medical care exists for the sole purpose of administering convenient, immediate, and quality care — for all.

Urgent care offers the same treatment as emergency rooms

It makes sense why some people believe that urgent care is the same thing as emergency care because there are plenty of general similarities, but they most certainly are not. People should seek out ER care for life-threatening situations like severe bleeding, heart attacks, strokes, or difficulty breathing. Urgent care centers treat serious conditions, too, but medical problems that can — and should — be treated quickly. Typical urgent care issues involve ankle sprains, ear infections, nausea, and vomiting. It’s important to note since many people believe these two medical facilities are similar, patients with life-threatening problems still visit urgent care centers. Urgent care providers are not equipped for certain emergencies and will call for an ambulance if they believe the visitor is in need of emergency medical attention.

These facilities don’t provide quality care

This can’t be further from the truth. There are plenty of urgent care centers across the country staffed with doctors who have their own practices. Whenever you walk into an urgent care center, you will likely be seen by either a doctor, a physician assistant, or a nurse practitioner — all are experienced and qualified to administer care for a variety of medical concerns.

Urgent care can replace a regular physician

No matter how great the treatment is at your local urgent care center, it’s imperative that you regularly visit your actual doctor. Sure, urgent care centers have plenty of experienced and caring doctors on staff, but that can’t and shouldn’t replace a relationship with a regular doctor. Even if, hypothetically, you head to an urgent care center 7 days in a row, you might be seen by 7 different doctors. A regular physician, on the other hand, can help maintain a detailed record of your medical history, offer professional recommendations, and monitor your health. Also, after any kind of urgent care procedure, make sure to follow up with your regular doctor and give them copies of the records. Also, there are some urgent care centers that will openly communicate with your doctor.

Additionally, here are a few interesting facts pertaining to urgent care in the United States:

  • The average cost of going to an urgent care center is under $150.
  • The average cost of going to an emergency room is around $1,000.
  • A typical ER wait time is around one hour, but a typical urgent care center wait time is under 20 minutes.
  • About 75% of urgent care centers are located in suburban areas.
  • Rouhgly 15% of urgent care centers are located in urban areas and the remaining 10% can be found in rural areas.
  • Among urgent care visits, the most common diagnoses in 2015 were acute bronchitis, acute sinusitis, cough, acute upper respiratory infections, and acute pharyngitis.

Hybrid Urgent Care

Clearly, urgent care centers are great options for serious — but not life-threatening — health conditions. However, perhaps the best option for convenient care is to visit a medical center that offers both urgent care and emergency room treatment.

By combining these two forms of medical care, solutions for all kinds of medical concerns have been introduced. There are plenty of people who have sought emergency services for non-emergency events in the past because hospitals were the only available option. At convenient care hybrid locations, however, 24-hour walk-in clinics are open at the same time as emergency establishments — this availability gives patients a choice to seek non-emergency services at any time of the day. Since medical professionals at these facilities are able to treat more ailments than ever before, 95% of patients arriving at urgent care locations are treated on-site rather than being transferred to a hospital.

Providers across the country have been innovating and developing new ideas to provide more efficient and convenient care. These hybrid medical centers focus on shorter wait times, more effective practices, and are revolutionizing the healthcare industry.