How to Choose a Trustworthy Urgent Care Facility
What is urgent care?
Injuries and illnesses are never a good thing; they need to be addressed as soon as possible. When your primary care doctor’s office or clinic is closed, non-life-threatening injuries may occur which require immediate attention and cannot be put off until the next day. To address such situations, urgent care centers can alleviate the high costs and longer waiting times of emergency room care, and provide convenient, walk-in accessibility during after-hours or on weekends when primary care is unavailable. Save the emergency room for true medical emergencies.
In recent decades, urgent care centers have proliferated across the US, slowly and steadily becoming a ubiquitous part of the medical landscape. Because of this, it is becoming increasingly difficult to tell which of these alternative medical facilities are competent in providing quality care. To address this issue, we’ve decided to compile a list of criteria which will hopefully help you decide whether the urgent care center you’re considering is worth visiting:
Accreditation is key
One way to determine whether an urgent care center is trustworthy is to check its credentials. Ideally, your facility should be registered and accredited by the Urgent Care Association of America (UCA). You can also look for Joint Commission accreditation: these organizations adhere to strict quality and safety standards when inspecting facilities, so accreditation from them is a good sign. Check to see whether their certifications belong to legitimate medical organizations and associations. Aside from the facility itself; try to check whether the physicians, physician’s assistants, and nurse practitioners are board-certified as well.
Another telling sign of the quality and competence of an urgent care center is what its local community thinks of it. Try talking to some local residents who have visited the urgent care facility and see if its reputation is solid.
Proper equipment and cleanliness are important
Check out the center and take note of its physical appearance and overall ambience. Is the place clean? Is the staff friendly? Do they have the proper medical equipment to be able to treat a wide variety of injuries? Does their equipment look new (or at least well-maintained)? Does the center offer X-rays and onsite laboratory and pharmacy services? What specific medical services do they offer? How the facility looks and makes you feel can determine whether you should place your trust in its staff and its medical care services.
Convenience is essential
One of the most important criteria for determining whether an urgent care center is good is the convenience it offers. A good barometer is whether they keep extended weekday and weekend hours. Another is how near the center is to your location. Also, check to see if the place is adequately staffed, with enough physicians and nurses to accommodate a number of patients. Find out if the center has an on-site pharmacy that lets you buy medicine without having to go anywhere else. Lastly, check to see if the center is part of your medical care network: Is it independent, connected to your primary care provider, or part of a larger medical consortium or network?
Multiple and convenient payment options are preferred
Another way to measure the convenience of an urgent care center is the ease and variety of payment methods accepted. A good urgent care center will accept private insurance, Medicare, and even worker’s compensation. Cash payments are usually the norm for people without any health insurance, so try to see if they also offer cash discounts; it’s also important to find out whether eligibility for these discounts requires paying in advance, or paying within a set time period such as 30 days.
Urgent care centers exist to provide affordable, convenient, and effective medical care and health services when your primary care provider is not available. They fulfill a very important role by making sure that you have access to the proper medical attention for unforeseen medical problems.
Use SAMI-Aid to compare prices at urgent care centers
Choosing an affordable and convenient urgent care center near you can be as easy as going online and using SAMI-Aid’s Provider & Price Search tool to compare prices. You can find out the estimated cost of an urgent care visit near you before you go. SAMI-Aid’s Provider & Price Search tool is available to all SAMI-Aid Premium members; our signature tool allows you to search and filter by facility type, procedure, specialty, location, and price. For $79.99 per month, SAMI-Aid Premium Membership includes access to this tool as well as 2 free virtual appointments per month with any combination of our providers: doctors, nurses, therapists, and psychiatrists. Sign up for a membership to avail yourself of these and other essential medical services.