Urgent care clinics are equipped to treat a wide variety of illnesses and injuries. They provide a quick and convenient solution when you aren’t able to obtain an appointment with your doctor or may be struggling with an illness or injury outside of normal business hours. However, not all urgent care centers will provide the exact same experience when you visit. Some operate under different rules and regulations and requirements and hours can vary from center to center.
Getting quality health care from any medical facility starts with preparation and open communication between the patient and the medical provider. You can get the most out of your next urgent care visit by following the five tips below.
Familiarize Yourself With Your Insurance Plan
Many people are accustomed to going to their family physician, therefore they’re used to paying a specific co-pay for their visit. Each urgent care center operates a bit differently and will likely have relationships with different health insurers. Depending on the insurer and the urgent care center, a patient may be fully covered or may have to meet their deductible. It’s a good idea to check out your policy to see what’s covered first and whether the given clinic will actually accept it. If unsure, call the insurer or the clinic to get a definitive answer before going. While the costs will likely be comparable to a doctor’s office (certainly much cheaper than going to the emergency room), it’s a good idea to figure it out beforehand so there aren’t any surprises.
Bring Important Information With You
One of the good things about seeing the same primary care doctor is that they typically have immediate access to the majority of your medical history. While that’s not always necessary in every case, it can be helpful when recommending medications or courses of treatment in a given situation. If you’re able to, bring a list of any medications you’re taking, current medical conditions, recent procedures, allergies, and the contact information for your primary care doctor(s). This will allow the urgent care staff to assess an illness or injury with a more complete picture of their medical health and history and provide better care for your needs.
Many over-the-counter cold medications have multiple ingredients, including acetaminophen (Tylenol), which could cause accidental overdose and serious liver problems. Advising the urgent care physician could help them make sure they don’t prescribe the same medication or anything that might interact with it. In addition, you should tell the doctor if their illness is a recurrence of a prior issue and what medications helped if any.
Be Ready to Share Important Facts
To help with the treatment process, medical personnel will generally follow the pneumonic “OLDCARTS” — Onset, Location, Duration, Character, Aggravating factors, Relieving factors, Timing and Severity — to figure out the history of the illness and determine the scope of the problem. Patients should be prepared to answer:
- When did your symptoms start?
- Where do you feel pain or discomfort?
- How long have you felt this way?
- How would you describe how you feel?
- What makes you feel worse?
- What makes you feel better?
- How much does the pain or discomfort hurt?
Know What to Ask the Urgent Care Doctor
An empowered patient is a happier and healthier patient. In order to leave an urgent care clinic with a comprehensive understanding of the issue and the treatment plan, patients should always ask the following questions:
- What is the diagnosis?
- When should I expect to feel better?
- Can you go over the medication? Are there any side effects? How will it interact with my current medications?
- What would be a cause to come back in?
- How do you plan to follow up with my regular physician or pediatrician?
- Do you have a printout I could take home for care instructions?
Avoid Peak Times When Possible
The beauty of urgent care clinics is the ability to get immediate treatment at nearly any time of the day (or night). The wait times are also typically much shorter than regular physician visits, even with an appointment. That said, there are times that are more crowded than others. Peak times can vary from center to center — and even within the same center — but there are some fairly universal times to avoid. If the patient has a choice about when to go, they may want to wait a bit after the center opens in the morning; this tends to be one of the busiest times of the day.
The lunch hour may be rather crowded as well, and certainly, the evening hours after most medical offices close and people have gotten out of work will generally be busier. Of course, the wait time shouldn’t be that long even during the clinic’s busiest hours. But in the case of a rush, patients may want to schedule their visit in advance or head to the urgent care facility in the early-to-mid-afternoon. If possible, patients should avoid coming to urgent care in the last hour before closing to ensure that the medical staff has sufficient time to address their concerns. This will provide time for appropriate tests and treatment to be performed in urgent care prior to closing time.
Summing it Up:
Generally speaking, urgent care clinics provide some of the fastest, most convenient treatment available. These tips can simply make your visit even more productive and ensure your experience is a less stressful one for you. For more information about our healthcare center, please don’t hesitate to contact either Swift location today via email, website inquiry or telephone.