Whenever someone gets injured or suffers from an illness or injury, they typically think of two healthcare options that have always been available to get folks back on their feet: the primary care physician or the emergency room. Patients generally don’t realize there’s a third option – urgent care.
Urgent care centers are being offered by more and more healthcare networks and independent care providers as an option for their patients. These centers are one of healthcare’s fastest-growing trends nationwide and they offer great benefits to everyone.
There are a number of differences between a primary care doctor, the Emergency Room and urgent care centers. Here is what you need to know:
• Primary Care Doctor- While a family doctor has access to your medical records and a good understanding of your medical history, your primary care doctor’s office usually requires an appointment – which means days can pass before you get in. A primary care physician provides referrals for nearly all services (i.e., imaging, blood work, prescriptions) after making a diagnosis.
• Emergency Room Care- The emergency room is best suited to treat major illnesses or life threatening conditions and injuries such as heart attacks, stroke and major trauma. Everyone knows that wait times and care providers will vary, and unless you have chest pain or a traumatic injury, you’ll likely be there for several hours. Emergency rooms operate on a walk-in basis, and provide all services (i.e., imaging, blood work, prescriptions).
• Urgent Care – Urgent care centers fit conveniently between a visit to the primary care physician and a trip to the E.R. They operate on a walk-in basis and patients are seen promptly. Some centers provide x-ray imaging, blood work and can even fill prescriptions in-house…and they provide it all at a much lower cost than the E.R.
Put simply, urgent care facilities treat injuries and illnesses that are serious enough to require immediate attention – but not serious enough to warrant a trip to the emergency room.
Just what does an urgent care facility treat?
• Anxiety & Depression
• Dermatology procedures
• Eye Injuries
• Laceration Repair
• Men’s Health
• Minor Burns
• Minor Fractures
• Neck & Back Pain
• Poison Ivy
• Respiratory Infections
• Skin Lesions
• Woman’s Health
A visit to the E.R. with these types of illnesses or injuries is typically not necessary. In fact, visits for these conditions can help create the long wait times as patients are sorted (triaged) according to the seriousness of their condition. In an urgent care facility, however, there are virtually no wait times because they are staffed to keep things moving. That means convenience, quality care and affordability for the patient.
Urgent care is very different from both emergency care and primary care. It has always focused on providing the right care at the onset of illness or injury to speed up recovery and prevent a condition from getting worse. Urgent care medical centers offer a convenient option, and have resources available that your primary care physician does not have at his disposal.