The healthcare sector has come a long way. Today, there are various ways to avail diagnosis for individuals suffering from any kind of injuries, illness, or medical emergencies. As we all know, there are two different types of treatments we can avail of based on the medical requirements and the urgency to address that medical requirement, namely urgent care, and primary care.

However, it is a fact that most people are still confused about the differentiation between urgent care and primary care. According to CDC, about 130 million people had to avail of urgent care in the year 2018, but 27% of those cases, i.e. 35 million cases, were related to injuries and 12.4% cases, i.e. 16.2 million cases had to be admitted into hospitals. What’s more, 43.5% of those cases were in the emergency room for less than 15 minutes.

Determining when to avail of primary care and avail of urgent care can help people save a lot of time and resources. Therefore, let us first try and determine what these services have to offer.

What is Urgent Care, and When Should We Use It?

Should we go to an urgent care center if we suffer from chest pain or if a child is injured in a cycling mishap? Not very easy to be sure, is it? Therefore, to make things easier, let us look at the description of where to go based on the care required.

Any severe injury or life-threatening medical complexities such as heart attack requires a visit to the nearest emergency room. However, it is different when it comes to urgent care centers as one should visit an urgent care center only when an injury or illness is not life-threatening but still requires urgent medical attention.

Urgent care is an easy way to access quality health care for the times when the physicians are unavailable. These centers are open at any time of the day, night, weekends, or even holidays, and there is no need to book an appointment for availing of urgent care. Injuries or illnesses that can be treated at an urgent care center include:

  • Injuries from falls or accidents
  • Cuts and bruises that do not require stitches
  • Redness or irritation in the eyes
  • Strains and sprains
  • Diagnostic services such as laboratory tests and X-rays
  • Difficulties in breathing caused by mild or moderate asthma
  • Severe cough or sore throat, and many more.

What is Primary Care, and When Should We Use It?

Primary care is more than doctors who treat pains, aches, and colds. A family doctor, pediatrician, and even family nurses are all considered to be primary care providers. The main objective of primary care includes detecting diseases at early stages, managing chronic diseases, and ensuring that preventive care is provided to the patient. Primary care doctors:

  • Provide medical counseling   
  • Care for patients suffering from usual diseases such as flu or fever
  • Monitor the health of the patient
  • Educate patients about measures to prevent chronic diseases
  • Carry out scans and screenings to detect any health issue at its early stage
  • Provide necessary vaccinations

All in all, primary care is an excellent way to help patients manage long-term chronic diseases such as asthma and diabetes. The best aspect of primary health care providers is that they are already aware of the factors that might have a negative impact on the health of their patients. 

Distinctions between urgent care and primary care

When it comes to treatments or services, urgent care centers and primary care centers are not significantly different. However, there are still some distinctions between both healthcare facilities.

  • Operating Hours: Unlike primary care centers, urgent care centers are fully operational at even the oddest hours, including weekend hours and holidays. For instance, if someone feels ill on a Friday evening and wishes to get diagnosed by the end of the weekend itself, then urgent care centers are the right fit.

But suppose a person is experiencing symptoms relating to chronic diseases. In that case, it is best to consult with the primary care provider as these physicians are already familiar with the patient’s medical history.

  • Waiting Durations: Nothing is more agonizing than having to wait in the waiting room of a doctor for long hours. Fortunately, the wait times in urgent care centers are shorter under normal circumstances. Urgent care centers take pride in providing treatments at a quicker pace and without an appointment. This is what sets them apart from other primary care providers.
  • Services: Urgent care, also known as immediate care, is equipped to provide minor emergency services that the primary care provider cannot offer. However, both of these facilities are fully capable of various similar medical complications such as minor infections, flu shots, sprains, minor bone injuries, bug bites, infection on eyes or ears, asthma or allergies, laboratory tests, rashes, x-rays, and much more.

Nevertheless, it is essential to understand that availing treatment or diagnosis from an urgent care clinic is not a replacement for the ongoing care provided by the primary care physician.

  • Cost of Treatment: Availing treatment from an urgent care center is way more convenient than the alternative. These centers are usually located commercial hotspots, and anyone can budge in at any time without an appointment.

But most primary care providers are known for accepting insurance, making it very affordable. Even though most urgent care centers do not accept insurance, there are still a few. Therefore it is better to enquire about these details before getting the treatment done.

Final Thoughts

One cannot stress enough that urgent care should always be a supplement and not a replacement to primary care. Nevertheless, both the facilities are essential in their way as they both serve different purposes. Therefore, it is highly recommended to consider the information mentioned above before making the next visit to a medical facility.

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