Convenient Care 101
5/20/2016 10:22 AM
With Hays County’s rapid growth, walk-in care and free standing emergency clinics are becoming more prevalent. Tourists, students and the expanding population are looking for convenience and value when it comes to health care. Our expert panel answers the top questions you may have about these facilities.
Q: how does Walk-in care differ from an ER?
A: Walk-in clinics and urgent care centers can see many conditions including cold and flu symptoms, broken bones, sprains, minor pain, respiratory and ear infections, urinary symptoms, STD testing, cuts and skin rashes. It is more appropriate to visit the ER for chest pain, potential stroke, severe abdominal pain, injury with loss of consciousness, exposed bone or heavy bleeding. Call your primary care provider when in doubt.
Q: Are co-pays different at walk-in clinics?
A: Yes. ER copays are the highest, then urgent care, then walk-in clinics, which usually bill at the physician office rate, so your co-pay is the same as you’d have with your family doctor. Every insurance company has different contracts and plans, so know the details of your insurance plan.
Q: Why are so many urgent care clinics opening up?
A: There is an increasing shortage of primary care providers, so the family doctors aren’t always able to make same day appointments. Urgent care facilities and walk-in clinics help care for people with minor ailments and injuries that aren’t serious enough to warrant an ER visit. This makes for an affordable, convenient option.
Q: How do I prepare for an urgent care visit?
A: Be aware of your insurance coverage, know your medication allergies and bring a list of medications and your health history.
Q: How will i receive test results?
A: Many clinics have an online patient portal where patients can get their results. Most walk-in clinics or urgent care clinics also send communication of the visit to the patient’s primary care provider, but it is best if your let your primary care provider office know you were seen at another clinic.
Q: So what is the role of a primary care physician?
A: Everyone should have a relationship with a primary care provider. This is important for continuity of care and in the event that an illness or injury requires referral to one or more specialists. Even people in good health should have a primary care provider for regular check-ups, preventative care and coordination of care for an illness or injury. Primary care providers are excellent promoters of good health and preventative care, not just for management of disease.
Q: Who are the providers at Walk-In and Urgent care clinics?
A: More and more clinics of all sorts including specialists, primary care, and walk-in are being staffed with physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants. They are highly trained health care providers who can see patients, order and interpret tests and prescribe medications as necessary.