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Leah McCabe

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About Author — Leah likes writing about health and science subjects. Through her writing she hopes to help people of all backgrounds have equal access to information and quality healthcare.

Most PlushCare articles are reviewed by M.D.s, Ph.Ds, N.P.s, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. Click here to learn more and meet some of the professionals behind our blog.

Why Urgent Care Is Moving Online

You may not need to go to a doctor’s office the next time you get sick or need a prescription. That’s because many urgent care services are available online. So, why is urgent care moving online? 

It’s Convenient

In many cases you can be treated online instead of spending time in an urgent care center. The development of medical tech makes it easier for online doctors to accurately diagnose and treat patients via secure video chat. With online appointments you only need to set aside time to meet with the doctor. The average online appointment lasts just 15 minutes. Online doctors can even write prescriptions and refills

Online psychiatry is a fast growing subset of telemedicine. With online psychiatry appointments, patients can get the care and prescriptions they need without leaving home. This is especially useful to those with mental health conditions that make going to an in person session more difficult.


Most Emergency Department Visits Can Be Handled by Online Doctors

According to studies, as many as 4 out of 5 emergency room visits can be handled by an online doctor instead. Considering how expensive and inconvenient the emergency room is, online urgent care is a better option for minor health problems.

Online urgent care centers can help emergency departments run more efficiently by removing noncritical patients who clog up the system and waste valuable resources.


It’s Affordable

Online urgent care services are almost always more affordable than going in person to an urgent care center or emergency room. This is because in person facilities have higher expenses compared to online urgent care websites.

For example, treating an earache out of pocket at the emergency room may cost around $400. At a traditional urgent care clinic, it may cost around $110 to treat. Whereas an online appointment, without insurance, will likely cost under $100. You also save money on transportation when you don’t need to travel to an appointment. 

If you are uninsured, online urgent care will almost always be the cheapest option to get care for minor medical issues. And patients with insurance pay an average of only $25 for an online appointment.


Tests Often Aren’t Required

Many minor health problems like earaches, allergies, and the flu, to name a few, don’t need additional testing for a diagnosis to be made. In fact, diagnoses of minor health problems are made simply by the doctor asking the right questions. This can be done online. 

That said, if the doctor is not confident diagnosing your condition and giving a subsequent treatment plan, they will order the necessary labs and refer you to the nearest testing center. Your lab results will be sent back to the online doctor who can give you an official diagnosis.

Even if you need lab testing you can save time and money by getting the labs ordered from an online doctor rather than an in person urgent care center.


When Should You Use Online Urgent Care?

Here are some instances where online urgent care can be a great choice:

You have hives or a rash and want to know what to do

You have a urinary tract infection (UTI) and need antibiotics

You have an earache or sore throat and think you might need antibiotics

You want to talk to a psychiatrist but don’t have local access to one


Sometimes it’s best to go to a traditional urgent care clinic:

You have complicated health problems

You think you have a broken bone

You have a bad cut that may need stitches


And in some cases, you should definitely go straight to the emergency room:

Difficulty breathing

Suspected spine or neck injury

Uncontrollable bleeding

High fever

Head injury with abnormal behavior, unconsciousness, or vomiting

Chest pain


How Do Online Urgent Care Appointments Work?

Now, you may be wondering what an online doctor appointment is like. It’s simple.

You will typically make an online appointment on a website or app. At your appointment time, you’ll join the video session and meet face to face with the doctor to discuss your current medications, health history, and symptoms. You will also want to ask the doctor any questions you may have and essentially treat the visit as you would a regular doctor’s appointment.

At the end of your consultation the doctor will provide a diagnosis and a treatment plan. If that plan involves prescription medication, they can electronically send it to your preferred pharmacy.

 See? Simple.

Wrapping Up: Why Urgent Care Is Moving Online

How we receive urgent care is evolving as technology continues to provide solutions and reshape the current channels of healthcare. Online urgent care sites are solving issues both doctors and patients have accepted as normal. By challenging this complacency and delivering positive results, online health services are becoming the new standard of care and will only continue to grow as more people realize the outstanding benefits of digital healthcare. 


Read More About Why Urgent Care Is Moving Online


Sources

Debt.org. Emergency Rooms vs. Urgent Care Centers. Accessed November 18, 2019 at https://www.debt.org/medical/emergency-room-urgent-care-costs/

M Health Intelligence. Telemedicine Moves Primary Urgent Care Out of the ED and Into the Home. Accessed November 18, 2019 at https://mhealthintelligence.com/news/telemedicine-moves-primary-urgent-care-out-of-the-ed-and-into-the-home

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