In today’s world, many people no longer have a primary care physician, opting instead for urgent care centers and telehealth options. While 75% of urgent care patients rated their quality of care as good or excellent in 2016, it still pays to have a primary care doctor you can see for preventative care and even immediate care situations. Here are a few reasons why.
- They Know Your Medical History: In urgent situations, urgent care doctors may not have access to your entire medical chart. It may not be necessary for certain types of treatment, but it can certainly come in handy when you have ongoing health concerns. You’re ultimately more likely to receive top-notch care from your regular doctor for the simple fact that they know you. Not only are they more acquainted with your medical history, but they’ll also have a better baseline to assess your current condition and rule out potential diagnoses from the start. While medical professionals who work in emergency rooms are no doubt highly qualified, they don’t have the home field advantage. You may be able to receive more effective treatment from a physician who’s well-acquainted with your history than from someone who’s playing catch-up in order to provide you with a viable solution.
- They’ll Reduce Your Costs Over Time: Some people assume that seeking out urgent care will end up being more affordable than (or at least on par with) what their primary care doctor will charge. In some cases, that’s definitely true. But you can’t forget about the big picture. People who have and see their primary care physician on a regular basis tend to have fewer health complications and fewer hospital visits than someone who has no regular doctor at all. It may not make a huge difference in the here and now — but later on, you may find that having a doctor you see regularly may cut costs over time. They may be able to give you advice over the phone, help you manage chronic conditions, eliminate expensive medical possibilities, or be more likely to accept your insurance coverage than an emergency department or even some freestanding urgent care centers.
- They Can Catch Serious Issues Early: There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the quality of care you’d receive at urgent care centers or at hospitals. However, it’s less likely that the staff at these facilities will understand any of your underlying health conditions as quickly as your regular doctor might. Again, they have the home field advantage. Because they know what you’re normally like and how your health normally is, they can immediately know whether there’s cause for concern. If they know they can’t help you with a particular health problem as well as a specialist might, a referral will be easy to obtain — and therefore, you can receive the care you need more quickly. Plus, because you’ll see your regular doctor once a year at your annual exam, they’ll be the first to know whether something looks off. Relying on urgent care staff is fine for quick fixes, but you won’t see them frequently enough to stay on top of potential health risks.
Urgent care centers can provide excellent care in situations that require immediate attention, as well as a plethora of other situations. However, it’s important to supplement that care with visits to a regular physician. This combination is the best way to prioritize your overall health and ensure nothing is missed.