Parent Motivations - Urgent Care vs Hospital

Goals

To better understand the motivations of parents of children under the age of 18 and the factors that drive them to choose either urgent care or hospitals for their ailing children.

Early Findings

  • As per a study, non-urgent cases account for 58% to 82% of all trips made by parents of children under the age of 18 to emergency care centers like hospitals and urgent care instead of their primary care provider.
  • Typically parents overestimate the seriousness of their children's condition and seek urgent care and emergency response treatments for even non-urgent conditions. As per the results of a survey, the factors that led to such a response from parents were that 68% of the parents surveyed considered their child's condition as moderate to very serious, 66% of the parents had sought advice prior to attending the emergency department, 54% of the children who attended with an injury presented promptly to emergency, and 41% of the children who attended with an illness presented within 2–7 days of the onset of the illness.
  • There are certain cases where parents have no choice but to rush to the ER department of an hospital. These cases are fever in infants under 2 months of age, a serious injury or illness in children, a life or death condition, seizure, head injury or concussion, severe dehydration, irregular breathing, and facial injuries that require stitches.
  • However, for less serious cases like mild flu-like symptoms, ear infections, sore throat, and pink eye, parents prefer going to urgent care centers.
  • Many urgent care centers have age limit restrictions and lack the kind of advanced medical equipment that hospitals have, hence parents of children under 18 prefer hospitals over these urgent care centers.
  • Even financial conditions dictate whether parents take their children to a hospital ER or an urgent care center. Since hospital ER services cost a lot more, especially if one has to go outside of their insurance coverage, parents of children under 18 years who are not well off financially prefer to go to urgent care centers for most non-life-threatening cases. However, wealthy parents prefer the hospital ER services over urgent care centers.

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