You are sick and your doctor can’t fit you in: How do you choose an urgent care? In a recent poll conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, most people reported going to urgent care because they believe it is more convenient and takes less time than going to their regular doctor. What are the most important things to consider when choosing an urgent care?
According to US News and World Report, “The total cost per episode was found to vary by location:
- Retail (or in-store) clinic average: $110
- Physicians office average: $166
- Urgent care average: $156,
- ER average: $570
Even if you have “just a co-pay”, it is important to remember that if your deductible hasn’t been met for the year, you may be billed the entire balance. Another recent study showed the average ER visit was closer to $1,000–so avoid that when possible!
Unfortunately, the urgent cares we called for this article were not willing to quote a price saying, “It depends,” before explaining the baseline costs. All of the urgent cares charge additional sums for tests and one newer facility explained that every additional test was $39 but if paying cash, they would limit the total to $299.
On the other hand, Evolve Medical Clinics off Forest Drive in Annapolis, is only $95 per visit for urgent care. Dr. Freedman, the founder of Evolve, states, “Whether you have a high deductible which you haven’t met or you are paying cash, Evolve will be your least expensive option. Our stated goal is to provide the best care in a way that is also really affordable.”
In the end, there is nothing more important than the quality of the medical care you receive. But quality can be difficult to assess.
The newer breed of urgent care is beginning to recognize that attracting the brightest and best physicians and NPs, who are dedicated and are looking for life-long commitments, is imperative to providing the best medical care. As an example, Evolve Medical has points to their vision statement specific for their providers: “Providing an environment which attracts and inspires the nation’s best providers while affording them the time and resources necessary to deliver the best possible care.”
Evolve Medical Clinics’ Vision Statement:
“To become America’s preeminent insurance-independent affordable primary/urgent care, consistently providing the world’s most evolved patient care.”
Urgent cares are all about convenience. The location should be close to your home (ideally) and they must be available evenings and weekends. Many people now feel that just being open and close isn’t enough. They don’t want to be crowded into a waiting room and wait for hours to be seen. When surveying the Annapolis area, it is clear that Evolve Medical has the lowest waiting time (usually less than 15 minutes) as well as the highest customer satisfaction rates.Evolve Medical Clinics accepts walk-ins or their clients can schedule on-line. They even have an option to text their main number (844-322-4222) to check on wait times.
What is even better than an urgent care for convenience? Virtual visits. The American Telemedicine Association estimates that up to 80% of urgent care visits can be handled via a virtual telemedicine visit. Currently, only Evolve Medical offers virtual visits and for insurance reasons, can only offer virtual visits to their members.
Staff and Environment
Along the same lines as above, will you be crowded in a large waiting room with a bunch of sick patients? Will the staff be warm and welcoming or cold and uncaring. Dr. Freedman had this to say, “It is important to begin the healing process as soon as the person walks in with a healing environment and warm, friendly staff. People should immediately feel they are in caring, dedicated and competent hands.”
When you need urgent care, usually you need it right away. There isn’t a lot of time to call friends and family or neighbors for advice. A few quick and easy resources to at least get a sense of how long a wait is and whether other people felt they were well taken care of, is Yelp or Google or even Facebook.