Do you find yourself struggling to decide where to go when you or a loved one is sick or injured? What locations are open? Can I get a convenient appointment? How far do I have to travel? Can they do an x-ray or lab work? What’s it going to cost?
You’re not alone. Patients now have more choices for medical care than ever before. That’s why it’s important to know the different types of care available and which kind is most appropriate for your illness or injury.
As a family medicine doctor, and a mom of four children (all still at home), I recognize the urgency, time constraints and other challenges of busy families.
Generally speaking, there are three kinds of medical care – routine, urgent and emergency. Each type of care is provided in a different environment by health care professionals with varying degrees of training. Appointments/walk-in options, hours of operation and the cost of services are also different at each level.
Routine Medical Care – Your Deaconess Clinic Doctor’s Office
This kind of care includes services provided by your primary care physician--family medicine, internal medicine or pediatrician. (Women also receive certain types of routine medical care from their gynecologist.) Sometimes you see a nurse practitioner or physician assistant that works in the same office as your doctor.
Your primary care provider should be the first contact for health concerns, chronic disease management, and even sick care. This provider is the keeper of your overall medical record and coordinates any specialty tests or services with appropriate hospital departments (like laboratory) or specialty physicians (like a cardiologist). While you may have a co-pay or fee for the office visit, routine medical care is often fully covered by insurance plans because it is considered preventive.*
Most visits to your doctor’s office are scheduled in advance and often include well baby and well child visits, annual physical exams for adults, routine vaccinations, and an ongoing relationship between provider and patient. There are some appointments held each day for sick visits as well—which often fill up early in the morning.
In years past, the only way to schedule an appointment with your provider for routine sick or well care was to call the office directly or schedule an appointment while physically in the provider’s office. With the increased use of health care technology, communicating with your primary care team has never been easier. Patients can now schedule appointments online and through MyChart at a time and location convenient to them. This is called “self-scheduling” and is a great option for people with busy schedules and access to the internet. Check out our “make an appointment” page to read about the options available to you and your family when routine medical care is needed.
If you’re looking for a primary care provider, visit www.deaconess.com/newdoctor. The right doctor for you may be only a click away, and you can even schedule your new patient appointment online.
Urgent Care – 3 Types/Levels to Know About
This level of care began as an outgrowth of the primary care physician’s office. Urgent care facilities are staffed by physicians, nurse practitioners and/or physician assistants, and provide extended hours of operation to give patients an option for medical care when their primary care provider isn’t available. For example, if develop flu symptoms on Friday evening, you couldn’t go to your doctor’s office, but you could go to an urgent care.
We offer three levels of urgent care, and have created on-line scheduling options for all of our Urgent Care and Express Clinics so you can wait at home until time for your visit. Walk-in visits to these facilities are also always welcome. To view live wait times, clinic addresses and to save your spot in line, visit https://www.deaconess.com/urgentcare.
Deaconess Urgent Care facilities treat a variety of minor illnesses and injuries. This includes sprains and strains, bleeding/cuts needing stitches, eye irritation, illness, sore throat and cough, urinary tract infections, minor broken bones/fractures, skin rashes, and infections. Lab services and x-rays are offered on-site at all three convenient locations: North Park, Gateway and Henderson.
While most urgent care facilities accept insurance, you may be responsible for a higher co-pay than an office visit with your primary care provider; but this fee will be significantly less expensive than the cost of an emergency room visit.*
Deaconess recently began offering a subcategory of urgent care called Deaconess Clinic Express. Providers at Deaconess Clinic Express offer minor injury treatment, sick visits, school/sport physicals, breathing treatments, ear wax removal and blood sugar screenings. Most insurance is accepted, and co-pays are similar to the cost of visiting your primary care provider.* Deaconess Clinic Express locations include inside the Meijer on Green River Road, and inside Deaconess Clinic West on Boehne Camp Road.
The most appealing aspect of urgent care treatment is usually the convenience of walking-in (with no pre-scheduled appointment) at a time/location convenient for you. This type of care is easy to access. However, you may end up sitting in a waiting room for a bit (unless you make an appointment ahead of time). You also accept care from the provider working that day and only get evaluated and treated for the specific problem.
Finally, Deaconess Clinic LIVE offers consultation, diagnosis and/or treatment by using your smartphone, tablet or desktop computer. You can communicate directly with a Deaconess Clinic provider by secure, live, interactive video conference. This service is ideal for conditions such as sinus infections, cough, flu symptoms, nausea, diarrhea, rashes, allergies, UTI in women and more. While currently Deaconess Clinic LIVE is not covered by insurance, many patients may find that the $49 fee is cost-effective AND time-saving for them. And if during the video visit the provider determines that you need to be seen in person, the $49 fee will be refunded. Full details are available at deaconess.com/LIVE.
Emergency Care – When Minutes Matter
The emergency room of a hospital is open all day, every day, with highly-skilled doctors and specially-trained nurses ready to handle anything that comes in the door. Illnesses and injuries that are appropriate for emergency care are heart attacks, stroke, severe injuries, burns, electrical shock, amputation, pregnancy complications and mental health emergencies.
In the emergency room, the most severely injured or ill patients take priority over patients with less significant conditions. That means visiting the emergency room for minor illnesses and injuries can result in a long waiting time.
If you go to the emergency room, be prepared to see whichever provider is working that shift. Also know that the goal of the doctors and nurses in the ER is to address your emergent problem or situation. They do not manage chronic illnesses or know all the specific details of your past medical care—even utilizing our single electronic medical record. (Remember--that’s why you have a primary care provider.)
Emergent conditions often lead to lab and imaging tests, inpatient hospitalization and/or surgery. These services cost more than a lab test or x-ray at a physician’s office or urgent care location. Emergency room co-pays and charges are also typically much higher than a doctor’s office or urgent care.*
Both Deaconess Midtown Hospital and Deaconess Gateway Hospital offer excellent emergency care, and Midtown is a level 2 trauma center. The Women’s Hospital is home to an OB/GYN Emergency Department.
So when you’re thinking “Where do I go?” ask yourself: Is this medical need routine, urgent or emergent? Understanding your options for care before you need it can save you time, frustration and money. Learn more about each option or make an appointment at deaconess.com/Know-Where-to-Go
*Always be familiar with your own insurance plan, including facilities and providers included in the plan, and financial responsibilities such as deductibles, co-pays and more.