Seven Questions about Urgent Care, Answered
Urgent care is a rapidly-growing segment of the healthcare industry. According to the Urgent Care Association, the number of urgent care locations nationwide grew eight percent between 2017 and 2018, with as many as 600 more centers expected to open this year.
There are many choices for urgent care on the South Shore, but there’s a lot to consider when choosing a center. I co-founded Health Express, a full-service urgent care facility, back in 2012. Earlier this year, we announced our partnership with South Shore Health. It’s a win for patients across the region that can now get timely, affordable care outside of South Shore Hospital’s busy Emergency Department (ED).
As part of a partnership between South Shore Health and WCVB-TV called One Healthy Boston, I answered some great questions about urgent care from Facebook users. Here are some highlights from the conversation.
(If you missed it, you can always watch the video here.)
What is urgent care?
Urgent care is a place to get medical care for any acute medical issue you have which is not life-threatening. So many people go to the Emergency Department when they don’t need that intense level of care. An ED visit can cost you hundreds of dollars—even if you have health insurance—and it takes space from the sickest of the sick that truly do need emergency care.
What are benefits of going to urgent care?
The advantages of urgent care are convenience and time. At Health Express, appointments aren’t necessary, and we try to see you immediately. We are able to provide on-site x-rays, flu shots, IV fluids, stitches and so much more. Our primary goal is to deliver excellent care in a short amount of time. If you’re at Health Express for more than 45 minutes, it generally means you had an IV or had a laceration that needed to be closed.
What are the differences between urgent care and emergency department?
Urgent care is for injuries and illnesses that need the attention of a doctor, but not necessarily the emergency room. Some examples of this are lacerations, fractures, animal bites, asthma or respiratory issues, splinters, and the like. Health Express locations have the ability to do bloodwork, x-rays and other procedures. A good way to think about it: If you need an ambulance, then you need the emergency department.
What sets Health Express apart from other urgent care centers?
First and foremost, when you come into any Health Express location, you will be seen by an emergency room trained provider. Every patient can feel the utmost confidence in the care they’ll be receiving. For nearly a decade, we’ve become a staple on the South Shore, and are a name you can trust. Additionally, because of our partnership with South Shore Health, we are in close communication with South Shore Hospital’s Emergency Department, should you need a higher level of care.
What does a typical Health Express visit look like?
When you first walk into one of our facilities, you will be welcomed by someone who will take your information. Within a few minutes, you’ll then be taken back into one of the rooms and a second person will meet you that will either be an x-ray tech, paramedic, nurse, or medical assistant. He or she will get your medical history and learn more about why you’re there. This whole process usually takes 5-10 minutes. After that, an experienced provider will come in and give you a diagnosis and next steps.
I think I have the flu. Where should I go?
The best first step is to call your primary care provider, if you have one, to discuss your options. If you don’t have a primary care provider, or he or she can’t see you, Health Express is a great option. You should only go to the Emergency Department when you have a life-threatening condition. Generally speaking, the flu is not life-threatening.
Will my insurance cover the cost?
It depends on your insurance. Health Express is considered Tier One, which is the lowest level of copay. It’s best to call the customer service number on your insurance card before visiting to get a sense of your copay. But remember: Emergency room visits usually cost five to ten times more per visit than urgent care.