Common Consumer Questions About Urgent Care Centers

If you’re not feeling well and don’t think it’s an emergency, where do you go? Consider visiting an urgent care center. Urgent care walk-in centers are an excellent option for people who need immediate medical attention but don’t want to pay 10x more for care at an Emergency Room or wait for an appointment with their primary care physician.

Urgent care medical centers are becoming increasingly more popular because they offer on-demand healthcare for non-life-threatening, non-chronic medical conditions, and are a convenient and affordable healthcare alternative to emergency rooms and primary care clinics. This article discusses the role of urgent care centers in the healthcare ecosystem to address consumer confusion or misperceptions about this type of healthcare provider.

At Integra Urgent Care in Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW), we treat acute injuries and acute illnesses, offer physical examinations and diagnostic testing, and offer online check-in and telemedicine services at three of our clinics in Las Colinas, Weatherford, and Grand Prairie. We also offer convenient walk-in hours with no appointments necessary, and we accept most major insurance plans while offering competitive self-pay rates for most services and diagnostic tests.

In this article, we discuss common questions that people ask about urgent care clinics, so you are clear about when to visit an urgent care and when to visit an ER or your primary care provider.

How are Urgent Care Centers Different from Primary Care Centers?

Urgent care centers manage non-life-threatening, non-chronic conditions that need immediate medical attention. Urgent care centers handle conditions such as sprains, strains, infections, colds, flu, cuts, fever, allergies, bruises, etc. that can be treated immediately without an appointment required. You can simply walk-in for on-demand healthcare at an urgent care clinic, like Integra Urgent Care.

Primary care clinics are focused on continuing care that involves preventing and treating chronic conditions, health checkups, patient education, and the diagnosis of acute and chronic illnesses and injuries. A primary care physician also provides treatment for recurring medical issues, such as reproductive health, nutrition, sleep issues, stress management, mental health problems, and minor/major illnesses.

If you need immediate, on-demand healthcare for a non-life-threatening, non-chronic conditions, it is best to visit an urgent care because you can be seen immediately without an appointment. If you have a recurring or chronic condition, it is recommended to schedule an appointment with a primary care provider.

What’s the Difference between Urgent Care and Emergency Rooms (ER)?

Here are several key differences between the healthcare provided at an urgent care center and an emergency room at a hospital or standalone facility:

  • Urgent care clinics treat non-life-threatening, non-chronic conditions while ERs handle life-threatening emergencies.
  • Urgent care clinics are typically much less expensive than a hospital emergency room This is because emergency rooms are required to have a certain number of staff on site at all locations, have specialized equipment to address life-threatening emergencies, and be open 24 hours a day.
  • Urgent care clinics are a good option for patients who need quick treatment but do not have a life-threatening condition – Urgent care clinics have experienced medical professionals who can provide prompt, efficient care for a wide range of conditions. In addition, urgent care clinics are typically open for extended hours and weekends, making them convenient for patients with busy schedules.

Do Urgent Care Centers and Primary Care Clinics Treat the Same Injuries and Illnesses?

Urgent care centers focus on treating acute, non-life-threatening conditions quickly and do not require an appointment to be seen immediately by a medical professional. You can just walk-in for medical care. Primary care can also treat the same things as urgent care, but it usually takes several days to get an appointment.

Urgent care is focused on the treatment of acute, non-chronic conditions while primary care is equipped to handle non-life-threatening, chronic conditions. If you are dealing with conditions such as heart disease or high blood pressure, it is recommended you visit a primary care provider who serves as a long-term healthcare provider for you and your family. Primary care also focuses on preventative care, such as cancer screenings and vaccinations.

Here are conditions that both urgent care and primary care treat for their patients:

  • Insect bites
  • Scrapes and lacerations
  • Sunburn and minor burns
  • Sprains and strains
  • Fractures
  • Cold & Flu
  • Congestion
  • Headaches
  • Bronchitis
  • Chickenpox
  • Food sensitivity
  • Sinus infections
  • Ear infections
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Upper respiratory infections
  • Pneumonia
  • Abscesses

Here are conditions that are best suited to be treated at just a primary care clinic:

  • Diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2)
  • Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism
  • High blood pressure
  • Diseases (such as cancer)
  • Chronic health conditions

How Long Do I Need to Wait for an Appointment at a Primary Care vs. Urgent Care Clinic?

Urgent care clinics offer on-demand medical care for non-life-threatening conditions. You can just walk-in for care with no appointment necessary. Integra Urgent Care also offers online check-in, so you can wait your turn at home or in your car instead of our waiting room. We also offer telemedicine/telehealth services so you don’t need to leave your home at all.

Primary care clinics offer medical care for non-life-threatening, non-chronic and chronic conditions although visits to primary care clinic often require an appointment that can be several days out.

What are the Differences in Diagnostic Testing between Urgent Care, Primary Care, and ER?

Diagnostic Testing available at urgent care, primary care centers:

  • X-rays
  • COVID-19 Testing
  • Flu/RSV Testing
  • Drug Screens
  • STD/STI Testing
  • Metabolic PanelsUsed to check for any abnormalities in your blood work, which can be indicative of a serious health condition. Metabolic Panels can also be used to monitor your progress if you are on a new medication or have recently changed your diet.
  • Chemistry PanelsMeasures the levels of certain substances in your blood, such as glucose, electrolytes, calcium, and kidney function. These tests’ results can help diagnose and treat many conditions, such as diabetes, kidney disease, and heart disease.

Diagnostic Testing available at primary care clinics:

  • Diabetes Screening – Used to identify patients who may be at risk for developing diabetes so that they can be treated early and prevent the progression of the disease.
  • Blood Counts
  • Bone Densitometry – Uses X-rays to measure the density of your bones. It’s used to diagnose osteoporosis and assess your risk for fractures.
  • Nerve Conduction tests – Measure the ability of a nerve to send electrical signals, and this test is used to detect damage to the nerves or nervous system. The test is also used to determine the cause of numbness, tingling, or weakness.
  • Pulmonary Function tests – Measures the health and capacity of lung function.

Diagnostic Testing available at emergency rooms:

  • EKG (Electrocardiogram) – Used to measure and record electrical signals from the heart to check for various heart conditions.
  • MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)Used to create detailed images of organs and tissues in the body.
  • CT (Computerized Tomography)Creates cross-sectional images of bones, blood vessels, and soft tissues in the body.

Does My Insurance Cover Urgent Care?

Most major insurance plans cover urgent care visits, although it’s always recommended to check with the urgent care facility about coverage before any services are rendered. Most urgent care centers also offer self-pay options for most services and diagnostic testing.

At Integra Urgent Care, we accept most major insurance plans. Please call us to verify coverage based on your insurance plan. We also offer competitive self-pay rates on most of services and diagnostic testing. If you are self-pay, we will discuss all costs up front so you are always clear on the cost of care before any medical services are performed.

Are Urgent Care Centers Open on Weekends and Holidays?

Most urgent care clinics are open 7 days a week (and Holidays) with extended hours on weekdays. Primary care centers are usually not open on the weekends or major holidays. Emergency rooms are open 24/7.

Integra Urgent Care is a trusted healthcare provider located in the DFW Metroplex. We offer on-demand healthcare at our three state-of-the-art clinics in Irving/Las Colinas, Weatherford, and Grand Prairie. We offer convenient walk-in hours 7 days a week and are open late on weekdays. You never need to make an appointment – just come into the nearest Integra Urgent Care center or check in online. We accept most major insurance plans and offer competitive self-pay rates. Integra Urgent Care centers also offer online check-in and telemedicine services. If you or a family member needs healthcare immediately, Integra Urgent Care is here for you.

Visit our website today to schedule an appointment or learn more about the services we provide.

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