When there is an illness, or a minor injury, that requires medical care but is not an emergency situation an urgent care facility can fit the bill. The first urgent health care centers formed in the United States in the 1970s. Today, approximately 300 new urgent care facilities open in the U.S. each year.
There are many reasons to visit an urgent care facility. Many of them are open evenings and weekends. Some of them even offer 24 hr urgent care. When someone is suffering from a minor injury, such as a sprain, or has a fever it is often difficult, or at times not possible, to get in to see the regular family physician right away. It is not an emergency situation, and waiting in a hospital emergency room with a low priority as far as emergencies go can make for a long wait. The urgent care facility offers a solution.
About half of the urgent care centers in the United States are in free standing buildings. Around 60 percent of urgent care facilities are privately owned by doctors, and others. Hospital ownership accounts for the rest of the urgent care centers. From the years 2007 to 2012, there has been about a 6.3 percent annual growth in the urgent care center industry. See this reference for more.