Is Urgent Care a Good Option for Primary Care?
If there’s one thing that has changed dramatically in the healthcare space during the pandemic, it has been the rise of urgent care adoption in the US. Urgent Care has grown steadily over the past 25 years, although COVID-19 accelerated this growth as urgent care providers were able to quickly adapt to fluid restrictions and healthcare needs of local patients who were not getting served by their primary care or other healthcare providers. As of 2019, the number of urgent care clinics in the US totaled almost 10,000 urgent care centers (1) and is still continuing to grow reflecting American’s desire for convenient, on-demand medical care.
The U.S. primary care sector is also experiencing growth. In 2021, the primary care market size was $260B with an estimated growth rate of 3.2% per year over the next decade (2). Access to primary care helps reduce rising hospitalization rates and the usage of prescription drugs and provides medical care for common symptoms and pre-existing conditions.
Today, an urgent care clinic in the U.S. is similar in many ways to a primary care center. Both types of clinics employ teams of highly trained medical professionals in facilities that are well-equipped to deal with non-life-threatening medical injuries and conditions that require professional medical attention, like sprains, fractures, and lacerations. Given these similarities, people often wonder where they should go for treatment when they have an acute injury and acute illness.
Patients coming to Integra Urgent Care often ask if they can get a doctor’s note and whether we offer regular checkups. We do have a protocol for issuing doctor’s notes, although we don’t offer regular checkups; instead, we address healthcare concerns that need to be addressed “urgently” and cannot wait a day or longer to be seen by their regular primary care doctor. Patients also ask if we prescribe antidepressants at the clinic and whether we refill controlled substances. Since most antidepressants require follow-up and monitoring, we do not prescribe antidepressants and will refer you to your primary care doctor. As for refilling pain medications, we do not offer that service at our clinic and, again, we will refer you to your primary care physician for any refill requests.
Ideally, an urgent care center is for treating non-life-threatening health conditions that need professional medical attention quickly. Primary care, on the other hand, is suited for regular care, annual checkups, and for treating recurring medical issues, diseases, and conditions.
Below is a table of conditions that outlines where patients should seek treatment.
Conditions Treated in Urgent Care vs. Primary Care
There are conditions where it is best to go to a primary care provider, including chronic health concerns like diabetes, hypertension, and blood pressure. In general, health conditions that gradually affect the body over an extended period, such as arthritis or depression, should be addressed by a primary care physician. They have a better idea of your overall health and can devise a suitable treatment plan. Urgent care centers, on the other hand, are set up to provide immediate medical assistance for non-life-threatening, acute conditions like fractures, flu, and allergies.
The table below will clarify where to go when you or a family member experience a specific health issue.
|CONDITIONS||PRIMARY CARE||URGENT CARE|
|Upper respiratory tract infection||Yes||Yes|
|Routine health checkup||Yes||No|
|Depression or anxiety||Yes||No|
|Middle ear infection||Yes||Yes|
Benefits of Urgent Care
An urgent care provider serves a wide variety of patients with different degrees of injuries and illnesses, and they provide quick relief for a variety of non-life-threatening conditions, including animal/insect bites, rashes, allergic reactions, cold and flu, COVID-19 testing, and more.
Integra Urgent Care clinics also provide additional services like:
- Diagnostic Services (X-rays and lab tests)
- COVID-19 Testing
- School, Sports & DOT Physicals
Benefits of going to an urgent care center for care include the following:
- Range of care – You can access a vast array of services quickly at an urgent care facility. Whether treating a sports injuries, getting an X-ray, getting stitches for a deep cut, or getting a COVID test all these services are delivered quickly by trained, licensed healthcare providers at an urgent care center. There is no difference in the quality of the services that you receive at an urgent care center when you compare it to a primary care provider.
- Lower cost – An urgent care clinic is ideal for non-emergency medical situations as centers accept most major health care insurance plans while offering competitive self-pay rates for patients who either don’t have insurance or who prefer to pay out-of-pocket for some services (even if they do). A comparable visit to an emergency room clinic could cost you upwards of 10x the cost. That said, if you are experiencing a medical emergency, it is important to bypass urgent care and get to the nearest Emergency Room facility as quickly as possible.
- Skilled healthcare providers – The licensed and skilled healthcare providers at walk-in clinics treat ‘mild’ ailments like cough and cold and bronchitis, although these centers also treat more serious medical conditions, such as fractures, minor auto accidents, and foreign object removal. Urgent care clinics can treat most non-life-threatening acute injuries and illnesses without the need to visit an ER or hospital.
- Fast service – Urgent care is available “now” – you don’t have to wait for an appointment. You can simply check-in online and wait your turn in the comfort of your own home until you provider is ready to see you. Most primary clinics don’t offer same day service, and appointments are usually schedule days or weeks in advance. With over 9,000 urgent care centers in the US, there’s a good chance a clinic is near your home or office to provide prompt treatment whenever the need arises. Integra Urgent Care has 3 DFW-area clinics and is open 7 days a week (and open late weekdays).
Integra Urgent Care Can Help with Your Health!
An urgent care center is an ideal healthcare option for those with busy schedules or who need immediate care. At Integra Urgent Care, our purpose is-providing convenient, affordable, and comprehensive medical care to individuals and families in the communities we serve.
We also offer services like Telemedicine which helps you access easy and on-demand medical care, no matter where you are. Telemedicine drastically cuts down on the time and effort needed for an in-person consultation at an urgent or primary care clinic. We also offer online check-in at our three Dallas/Fort Worth urgent care clinic locations. All you have to do is check-in on our website, and you can then wait at your home until we notify you that your provider is ready to see you.
Integra Urgent Care is a leading urgent care group in the DFW-area. We operate three state-of-the-art clinics in Las Colinas (Irving), Grand Prairie, and Weatherford. Our qualified doctors and healthcare providers offer care to you and your family 7 days a week, and we are open late on weekdays until 8pm.
We treat a wide range of sports injuries, acute illness care, acute injuries, COVID-19 testing, diagnostic care (such as X-Rays), and physical exams. We also offer online check-in and Telemedicine for your convenience. To schedule an appointment, visit our locations page to find our nearest clinic or call.
- Las Colinas: 972.861.5200
- Grand Prairie: 469.340.1710
- Weatherford: 817.596.4313