Going to the doctor is simple, so why are there so many types of care? This guide will help you understand everything you need to know when you are considering primary care vs urgent care. Which one do you need at any given point in time? What makes them different?
What is primary care?
Let us start by defining primary care:
- Routine healthcare services that you get from your provider
- The provider is a healthcare professional whose role is to be your main point of contact with the healthcare system
- If you need to see a specialist or you require surgery for example, your primary care provider can suggest what the next step is and who to request an appointment from
Primary care professionals include:
- Family doctors
- General practitioners
- Nurse practitioners
These healthcare professionals can prescribe medication for some ailments, order lab tests and blood work, and can give their patients advice on the course of action they should follow. If you, as a patient, have any doubt about your health, your primary care healthcare provider will be able to help.
What is urgent care?
Unlike primary care, urgent care deals with more acute health issues that arise suddenly. Urgent care facilities are different from emergency rooms and can reduce hospitalization rates where they are available. Specifically, urgent care is for:
- Injuries – that are not serious enough to require emergency room equipment and expertise
- Sudden illness
- Any other ailment that requires immediate care but is not serious enough to merit a visit to the ER
Primary Care vs Urgent Care
So, when do you need primary care vs urgent care? Here are a few examples that will help you understand:
- Annual checkups, follow up on previous medical appointments, and routine exams – these all belong to your primary care provider
- Sudden worsening of a medical condition, a minor accident involving trauma, unexpected health issues that need to be treated immediately – these all belong to urgent care providers
If you are experiencing shortness of breath all of a sudden for example, you would go to an urgent care facility. If you need bloodwork done to follow up on your cholesterol, you would go to your primary care provider.
The main difference between Primary Care and Urgent Care
The main difference that you should always consider in the primary care vs urgent care conversation, is a simple one: urgent care does not replace primary care but is a complement to it instead. If you go to your doctor regularly, do all your exams and lab tests on time, and monitor your health situation, then the chances you will need urgent care are lower. Nevertheless, accidents happen, and sudden health issues can arise. Then you will need urgent care as a complement to your primary care.
Primary Care vs Urgent Care: The Telehealth Angle
Given that primary care does not involve any sudden health issue that must be resolved immediately, unlike urgent care, telehealth becomes a very attractive option when you are choosing your primary care provider. In fact, telehealth provides some of the advantages that your urgent care provider can offer, combined with the convenience of not having to leave your house for a routine medical consultation.
- Provide healthcare services on a 24/7 basis, unlike many primary care providers and even some urgent care providers
- Allow you to see with a doctor almost immediately, much like urgent care facilities – which, in theory, should provide immediate care
- Help you determine what your next step should be or which course to follow with your healthcare concerns – which is what your primary care provider does
- Provide primary care for you and your family regardless of where you are for the same fee
Telehealth is essentially the most convenient service for those who are looking for ‘primary care near me.’
Telehealth for your Primary Care?
Therefore, when you are choosing primary care providers, it is wise to consider a telehealth service such as AntidoteHealth’s. We can help you navigate the complexities of healthcare from the comfort of your home. Our healthcare professionals can even help you beyond your consultation with a family clinician.
AntidoteHealth has psychologists, nutrition experts, and other healthcare specialists available right at your fingertips. One click is all it takes, and it is all covered with a single, monthly, flat fee. Talk with our staff today and find out more about how we can help you with your healthcare needs.