10 Top Differences between Freestanding Emergency Rooms and Urgent Clinics

Emergency Room vs Urgent Clinics

Most people tend to get freestanding emergency rooms and urgent care clinics confused. They tend to look alike, and their services are closely similar. However, they do have their differences.

Here is an insight into the top 10 differences between freestanding emergency rooms and urgent care clinics.

  1. Costs

The biggest difference between freestanding ERs and urgent care rooms is the costs involved. Freestanding ERs tend to charge more as their services come at a premium. This is especially influenced by the fact that there is a freestanding facility fee.

Urgent care clinics charge only for services provided and medicine prescribed. They are moderately cheaper than freestanding ERs, but there are price variations from one urgent care clinic to another.

  1. Working hours

One other major difference between freestanding ERs and urgent care clinics is their operating hours. Urgent care clinics stick to the normal business hours and mostly open for 10-12 hours. This means that they are often closed at night and hence are not ideal for emergency cases.

Freestanding ERs, on the other hand, operate around the clock and are mostly active at night when emergencies are common. Some, however, keep the same schedules as urgent care clinics.

  1. Facilities

Freestanding emergency rooms may not be attached to hospitals like ordinary ERs, but they go a step further when it comes to facilities and medical equipment when compared to urgent care clinics. They have better settings, more medical equipment, and a wide range of amenities that may not necessarily be medically necessary.

That said, Freestanding ERs are not fully equipped to take on some of the services provided by ordinary ERs.

  1. Staffing

Freestanding ERs are well poised to handle complicated cases as they are not only better equipped but also have capable staffing. They tend to hire specialists in diverse fields as well as nurses and caretakers to provide posh services to their clients. Urgent care clinics, on the other hand, have limited staff as they handle fewer cases and are only open during business hours.

  1. Treatment options

The difference in facilities and medical equipment also implies differences in treatment capability. Considering that freestanding ERs are better equipped than urgent care clinics, they are better capable of treating a wide range of diseases. In fact, it is not recommended to go to the latter with grave emergencies such as chronic conditions.

That said, freestanding ERs are not as well equipped for emergencies as ordinary ERs. To this end, they tend to transfer dire cases to main hospitals. In fact, the difference between freestanding ERs and urgent care clinics with this respect is dismal.

  1. Waiting time

Waiting time can be a life-saver when it comes to emergencies, hence making it a crucial difference. Interestingly, freestanding ERs have longer waiting times compared to urgent care clinics when it comes to emergencies.

Freestanding ERs offer premium services, and all patients expect to be served as soon as possible. As such, they don’t often prioritize certain cases before others unless they are dire. Urgent care clinics will easily prioritize urgent cases depending on the traffic of patients.

  1. Luxury amenities

Hospitals are not associated with luxury. However, it is one of the hallmarks of freestanding ERs as their services come at a premium.

Freestanding ERs lure in clients by offering them premium services, some of which are not even medically necessary. For instance, some feature coffee cafes and Wi-Fi networks. What’s more, the facilities such as hospital beds and medical equipment are posh, and so is the setting.

This is not the case with urgent care clinics as they mostly offer only what is necessary – a few, however, step up their game in a bid to get ahead of the competition.

  1. Location

It used to be that emergency health facilities were located close to hospitals. However, this is not the case with freestanding ERs and urgent care clinics.

Most urgent care clinics are located on the outskirts of residential areas to make them easily accessible. In major cities, however, they are dispersed throughout but do not necessarily target a certain demographic.

Freestanding ERs, on the other hand, are mostly located near posh suburbs where most of their clients come from. This is designed to offer their clients quick access and also to attract richer customers considering their services come at a premium.

  1. Insurance coverage

Some urgent care facilities do accept insurance policies from their clients, but some have reservations. In fact, some clinics accept full payments through insurers. The same is the case with some freestanding ERs, but most prefer cash as their services are premium and most insurers may shy away from covering you.

  1. Financing options

Urgent care clinics can help with financing by providing options such as applying for sponsorships. This comes as a great convenience for clients who are financially strained. However, this is not the case with freestanding ERs – to the contrary, they mostly target the rich who can afford their premium services.


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