Today there are more than 9,000 walk-in clinics in the United States and they have almost been an underground success. The history of walk-in clinics begins in the 1970s when a group of entrepreneurial physicians seeing the need for health care for patients that didn’t need emergency-level care.
While walk-in clinics did experience a decline in the 1980s due to a variety of reasons, but over the past two decades, they have experienced a lot of increase in the United States.
Here is a short run-down of the evolution of walk-in clinics.
The Beginning of Walk-In Clinics in the 1970s
The very first walk-in clinics only provided care for small or minor issues such as colds, the flu, and aches. However, the walk-in clinics were commonly staffed with physicians who weren’t as trained as physicians in traditional spaces, and the reputation of walk-in clinics began to decline. People commonly referred to physicians in walk-in clinics with the derogatory term, “doc in a box” and it became synonymous with low-quality care and a “last resort” option for physicians who couldn’t practice anywhere else.
This bad reputation, along with the fact that walk-in clinics competed with hospitals, led to a precipitous decline in walk-in clinics in the 1980s. Many hospitals began to purchase walk-in clinics or provided their own, similar service in their emergency rooms.
Despite the initial decline in the 1980s, walk-in clinics have begun to pop up all over the US over the past couple of decades. The shortage of healthcare options has made it nearly impossible for walk-in clinics to disappear forever.
The Shortage of Healthcare Options in the US
Over the past couple of decades, the population here in the US has grown dramatically, partially due to the fact that Americans are living longer than ever. The senior citizen population will increase by 75 percent to 69 million senior citizens.
There is a severe shortage of healthcare professionals, particularly doctors and nurses, in the workforce to care for the entire aging population. Not only are traditional medical offices feeling this pinch, but also hospitals. Hospitals are finding that they have to pay additional compensation to compete for a limited pool of health care workers and are still finding that they have a vacancy rate. This situation not only puts stress on the healthcare workers but also increases health care costs for Americans.
With the healthcare situation in dire straits, urgent care centers and walk-in clinics have provided a small relief to many underinsured and uninsured patients. The patient care and standards of care at walk-in clinics have increased significantly over the years. Professional organizations such as the Urgent Care Association of America (UCAOA) offer training, resources, and even a fellowship for physicians seeking to specialize in urgent care. Now, urgent care is seen more as a specialty or career choice that physicians can go into rather than last resort.
Now, you can find some of the best doctors at walk-in clinics. In addition to the increased quality of care, walk-in clinics now provide many more medical services than they did before. For example, EZCare Clinic provides a host of comprehensive medical treatment; from a minor treatment of colds and infections all the way to weight loss and hormone therapy. Here are some of the services offered at our walk-in clinic in San Francisco:
- Treatment for basic injuries and illnesses
- Weight loss programs including exercise programs, HCG injections, phentermine, and Lipo 6 injections
- Stress and adrenal fatigue treatment
- Anxiety disorder treatment
- ADD/ADHD treatment
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Smoking cessation
- Intravenous therapies to deliver nutrients and vitamins
- Women’s health services
- Men’s health services
- Emotional Support Animal Evaluations (ESA letter)
- Cosmetic Services (Botox)
In addition to their being a drastic need for more qualified health care professionals who can provide a variety of services, there is also a need for affordable health care. Walk-in clinics provide an affordable solution for the underinsured and the uninsured. Oftentimes, their prices are cheaper than most people’s copays.
The Need for Low-Cost HealthCare
It’s common for uninsured patients to seek emergency rooms as their primary source of healthcare where they typically treat first and bill later. However, emergency room costs can be steep and many people find that they cannot afford their medical costs. Unfortunately, this leads to an even higher level of emergency room costs, as the hospital has to cover the costs of unpaid medical bills.
Walk-ins serve as an expanded healthcare option that is dramatically cheaper than going to an emergency room. Most people are able to cover their bills from walk-in clinics with cash. Those who are insured may find that their employers or health care providers may encourage or direct them to urgent cares or walk-in centers because they are so cost-effective. Some insurance companies may even waive the copay to see a primary care physician if the patient goes to a walk-in clinic.
There are several reasons as to why walk-in clinics will continue to increase in presence all over this country as health care costs and demand for healthcare services increase. Walk-in clinics provide both an increasing standard of care and lowering prices. With a walk-in clinic, you get immediate health care provider availability; find convenience in time, location and cost.
Also, with the expanded list of treatments that walk-in clinics offer, it makes these facilities a win-win for many patients. If you need to see a qualified physician, don’t wait for weeks to see a doctor. Call us today; schedule an appointment with our easy-to-use online scheduler, or simply walk-in to our convenient location in San Francisco.