Little-Known Secrets for Navigating Urgent Care

When your primary care doctor isn’t available, visiting an urgent care center for immediate but non-life-threatening situations can feel as easy as dropping by the grocery store. They are convenient to get to (head here to locate an urgent care center near you), you don’t have to make an appointment ahead of time and you’re seen quickly by the board-certified staff using the same equipment you would find at your primary care doctor’s office.

That’s why, when you’re unable to book an appointment with your doctor, an urgent care center is another way to see a medical professional without excessive wait times or costs. That said, there are steps you can take yourself to make the visit even better.

Tips for a Successful Urgent Care Visit

  1. Walk in when you have free time. Nearly 70 percent of urgent care centers have a wait time of less than 20 minutes. If your workplace allows it, you can fit in a quick trip during your lunch break. They are also open after-hours and on weekends, though it’s usually the least busy if you go in the middle of the day during the week.
  2. Ask if your urgent care center has a pharmacy. You can save even more time if you can get your prescriptions filled on-site. Medications are usually offered at affordable rates, and clinics can provide antibiotics, asthma and allergy medicines, among others. Make the most of your pharmacy benefits by choosing an in-network pharmacy.
  3. Have your medical information on-hand. One advantage to having a primary care physician is that they know your medical history. Urgent care centers don’t have this information on file. Make sure your nurse knows about all of your existing and past conditions, medications and allergies so that they can provide you the best care. Based on your situation, clinics can also provide relevant brochures and hand-outs, so you know what to do once you’re recovering at home. And make sure you let your primary care doctor know about your visit to the urgent care center.
  4. There is no need to call ahead. Dialing urgent care to see if your illness or injury requires attention is unnecessary; they will want to see you in-person for a proper check-up and you don’t need an appointment. If you’d rather get advice over the phone, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network members have access to Blue Cross online visits and a 24-Hour Nurse Line to help assess their medical situation.

How to Find a Nearby Urgent Care Center

While your primary care doctor is the best first line of defense against illness and injury, in the event that s/he is unavailable, you can easily get a list of in-network urgent care centers and look up hours. Just log in to your Blue Cross member account, select Find a Doctor from the Doctors and Hospitals menu, and select Find a Doctor or Hospital, Compare Cost and Quality. Then type “Urgent Care” in the search field to find a center that accepts your specific plan. Members should use BlueCard to search for clinics while traveling. It’s that easy!


Photo credit: Andorra

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Read 4 Comments

  1. I really like your idea of trying to find an urgent care that has brochures to give you advice about recovering at home. My wife has been experiencing some back pain for the last couple of months, and she is concerned that she won’t be able to recover after a back surgery. I will be sure to tell my wife that some urgent care facilities can provide brochures to give her recovery advice.

  2. My son has a very bad sore throat and I want to get it checked right away instead of waiting for his next doctor’s appointment, so I am glad that I Found this article because I did not know how many benefits there are of urgent care! You make a great point that the wait time is usually less than 20 minutes and we don’t need to call ahead before we come! This will save us a lot of time and I can have peace of mind that I can take my son to the clinic today whenever it is convenient for me.

  3. Its amazing when you said that the average wait time for an urgent care center is less than 20 minutes in over 70% of cases. I am new to my area and I want to find a urgent care facility for my mother who has heart problems. Thanks for the article and I would need to speak to a neighbor who can help me find a good clinic near my area.

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