Urgent Care vs. Primary Care

Picture of a heart-shaped stethoscope sitting on top of blue scrubs and a clipboard.

When you’re injured or feeling under the weather, you may have a difficult time choosing between urgent care and primary care. What sets them apart from each other, and which one is right for you? Below, we explore the differences in urgent care and primary care, discuss whether urgent care can replace primary care, and explain why you should turn to PhysicianOne Urgent Care for your treatment needs.

When to Go to Urgent Care

When deciding where to go for medical treatment, one of the first questions you’ll need to ask yourself is whether your condition is life- or limb-threatening (for example, a heart attack or stroke). If it is, you should call 911 or get to a nearby emergency room as soon as possible.

If your condition isn’t life- or limb-threatening, the next step will be choosing between urgent care and primary care. Urgent care is an excellent option for when you need prompt treatment but can’t get an appointment with your primary care provider. In many cases, primary care offices won’t have appointments available for weeks or months into the future, whereas urgent care centers frequently offer walk-in availability. Plus, primary care providers typically have limited office hours, while urgent care centers are often open in the morning and evening, on weekends, and on holidays.

For example, at PhysicianOne Urgent Care, we’re open 365 days per year during extended hours and patients can choose whether to walk in or book a visit online. We also offer an integrated 24/7 telehealth service for patients who would prefer to speak to a local provider from the comfort of home. Our team can treat a wide range of non-life-threatening illnesses and injuries, including:

We also offer additional services such as lab testing, vaccinations, and school, sports, and camp physicals.

When to Go to Primary Care

Like urgent care centers, primary care providers (sometimes referred to as primary care physicians, PCPs, general practitioners, GPs, or family doctors) can treat a wide array of non-life-threatening illnesses and injuries. However, as was noted above, primary care providers are often booked well in advance, which can make it difficult for them to promptly treat acute (suddenly occurring) conditions. That’s where urgent care comes in handy.

With that said, primary care providers are still your best bet for routine and preventive care, including annual physical examinations. You can also rely on your primary care provider to treat chronic (ongoing) conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Plus, you can consult with them about non-emergent concerns like mental health, nutrition, and stress management.

Can Urgent Care Replace Your Primary Care Provider?

Despite the many services that urgent care centers can offer, they’re not a substitute for your primary care provider. Many people continue seeing the same primary care provider year after year, and if you establish this type of ongoing relationship with your doctor, they’ll gain in-depth knowledge about your medical history and any medications you’re currently taking. This insight will make it easier for them to monitor your health and detect any subtle changes that could potentially require further care.

At PhysicianOne Urgent Care, we understand how important it is for our patients to maintain a relationship with their primary care provider. With that in mind, when you visit one of our urgent care centers, we’ll ask for your doctor’s name and contact information so that we can forward your records to them once we’ve completed treatment. We’ll also refer you back to your primary care provider for any necessary follow-up care. We’re committed to providing a seamless care experience and ensuring that all of our patients’ healthcare needs are being met.

Visit PhysicianOne Urgent Care Today

If you need prompt treatment for a non-life-threatening illness or injury, stop into the nearest PhysicianOne Urgent Care center today—we have locations across Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York. Or, book a virtual visit through our 24/7 integrated telehealth service. We look forward to providing you with the professional, fast, and friendly care you deserve.

This was the fastest, easiest, and best doctor's visit. The provider was extremely kind and helpful. I explained my symptoms, the provider asked a few followup questions, and then she issued a script. I will absolutely be using this service again and would recommend to anyone.
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