Hesitant About Seeing Your Doctor? These Are the 3 Pros and Cons of Walk-in Clinics

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People are struggling with the best way to get health care for non-COVID health problems in a safe way. No one wants to sit in a waiting room full of other people who are not feeling well. What is wrong with them? Is it contagious? Is it COVID? Will everyone be wearing a mask? Has the clinic taken enough safety measures to keep everyone safe? Unless it is really necessary, does a person not feeling well even want to leave home? Today there are several health care options to consider.

Health Care Options

So, when a person does not feel well they should get a medical opinion of what is wrong with them and help in treating the condition. Historically, everyone would make an appointment with their family physician and hope the wait was not too long. Then, they would go for their appointment and wait until the doctor called them. This could be a few minutes or a long time.

Then, people had the added option of going to their local hospital emergency room as a walk-in emergency. They would arrive, sign in, and wait for a doctor to be available. The wait could be hours on busy days or evenings and the cost was high. But, at a hospital, the worst health emergencies can be handled and a person, if needed, could be admitted for surgery or additional care for serious conditions. This is still the best choice for serious health emergencies.

Now, people have a third choice, they can go to a walk in clinic that is staffed with doctors and health professionals for extended hours. The patient sees whichever doctor is available for care. This option is less expensive than an emergency room visit and the on-call doctor can treat many health conditions and prescribe medications. The doctors can examine a patient and determine if they can get treatment at the walk-in clinic or should go to a nearby emergency room for serious medical emergencies.

Walk-in clinics serve patients who walk in for care without appointments and they also will make appointments in advance for patients who call ahead. These clinics are less expensive per visit than an emergency room and have longer hours than doctor’s clinics.

Online Doctors

A newer health care option is online or phone doctor services. You can use these services as an initial health care advice service. A person connects to the service via a computer, mobile phone, or tablet. These are virtual doctor’s appointments with real licensed doctors. The patient fills in their medical information first. Then, they fill in their symptoms and health concerns. Next, they can schedule a virtual appointment with a doctor who is an expert in their medical condition.

Online doctors can help with:

1. Most family medicine and primary care concerns

2. They can order lab work and give the patient a lab work referral and order.

3. Online doctors can order prescriptions for non-controlled medications.

4. Doctors online can give you sick notes for work or school short absences.

6. Online doctors at Rocket Doctor in Ontario are available 24/7.

Online services such as Rocket Doctor in Ontario do have limits and can not help with:

1. Medical emergencies such as heart attacks or serious injuries are best handled by calling 911 or getting to the nearest emergency room.

2. Online doctors can not prescribe those controlled medications like narcotics.

3. Online doctors can not fill out school or disability forms, back-dated sick notes, or sick notes for work or school absences of longer than a week.

What About Walk-in Clinics?

There are good and bad things about walk-in clinics to consider. Use this information to decide if a walk-in clinic is a right choice for your health needs.

·         A patient does not need an appointment to get care at these clinics, they can just drive to them and walk in and register. Then, the next available doctor sees them. Patients also have the option of calling ahead for an appointment at a specific time.

·         Pricing is more upfront about treatment costs. They may have prices for many medical treatments posted in the reception area.

·         The method these clinics use focuses on the complaint the patient is concerned with rather than general health and takes less time for an appointment.

·         But, these clinics are limited in the care they can give. They help with minor health problems such as the flu, allergies, or minor injuries. They will need to refer patients with serious conditions to the nearest emergency room.

·         There won’t be long-term relationships with individual doctors. Visits are short and focused. Patients can not request a particular doctor but are assigned the next doctor available. Because of this, health care workers do not have as good an understanding of a patient’s overall health. Care may seem impersonal.

A person should still have a primary care doctor who has their medical history records and is familiar with their different health concerns and general health. Primary care doctors are needed for the more personal and complete medical care they give patients. Many walk-in clinics have a high proportion of nurse practitioners and doctor’s assistants and limited doctors seeing patients. Walk-in clinics are really meant to supplement primary care, not replace it.

When a person visits a walk-in clinic for some health problem, it is important to keep a record and give it to the primary care doctor so they have a complete health history. This may prevent tests from being duplicated or medications being given that do not work well together.

Then, remember that walk-in clinics are more business-oriented. They can turn patients away without treating them if they don’t have insurance or can not pay for the treatment out of pocket. The average cost per visit is $75.00. Walk-in clinics and urgent-care clinics are different in the services they offer, but they both have limited capabilities. In a real health emergency such as broken bones, heart attacks, strokes, serious injuries, or life-threatening diseases, it might be better to go straight to a hospital emergency room.

A really good plan when a health problem happens is to call a health professional for advice on which health care option would be best.