Many people are now using urgent care facilities instead of a primary care doctor. If you’re one of them, think again.
Urgent care facilities seem to be popping up on every corner, and they can look like the perfect solution to a healthcare problem. Urgent care centers are open after hours and on weekends. For some, it could be cheaper and faster to go to an urgent care rather than an emergency room. And people with high insurance deductibles believe it’s less expensive to go to an urgent care. So, why not take advantage of these conveniences?
First, none of the healthcare providers at the urgent care facility will know you or your loved one. The urgent care facility will not have your health history nor your family history. The purpose of urgent care is to treat a problem quickly and get you “in and out.” It is similar to a drive-thru fast food restaurant. When you want great, healthy food prepared by a talented chef, do you go to the drive-thru for something that was made in 3 minutes? No. Isn’t your healthcare more important than picking up a quick burger to eat on the run?
When handling your healthcare, you need a physician who knows you and your family’s health history. A new doctor can always ask you questions and write down the answers; however, if they are unlikely to ever see you again, are they going to take the time necessary to really assess what’s going on? Your healthcare needs are often complex. For example, you need to be careful about drug interactions so just getting a quick prescription isn’t always a good answer. An urgent care center is set up for the quick fix, not complex problems.
Moonlighting staff. Additionally, many urgent care facilities are staffed by doctors who are moonlighting from their day jobs. They might be very qualified; however, working at the urgent care is rarely their primary job. Many times after a visit to urgent care, you don’t get better or you have questions the next day. It’s very unlikely that you will be able to call the urgent care facility and talk to the doctor who saw you since he or she has returned to their day job.
Most people want great healthcare. When you are sick is not the time to start with a doctor who does not know you. Take charge of your healthcare:
- Find a primary care doctor.
- Know when your doctor’s office is open. Don’t wait until 7 p.m. on Friday evening to decide you need to see a doctor.
- Know when your doctor’s office has Saturday or late night hours.
- Ask your doctor if he or she is affiliated with an “after hours” clinic that will have access to your or your loved ones’ medical records, if you must go to the doctor when your primary doctor’s office is closed.
- Plan ahead when possible. If you are feeling badly on Monday, call the doctor’s office before the office is closed for the weekend.
And most of all, establish a good relationship with a primary care doctor. It’s the best place to start to take charge of your healthcare.
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