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How long do typical appointments last at an urgent care?

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The first thing to understand is whether the facility you’re planning to go to is really an urgent care. Unfortunately, some medical offices call themselves urgent care walk-in clinics even when they’re not. In reality, some regular medical clinics misrepresent themselves as such.

Because of such claims, many patients think these centers are inefficient when it comes to emergency care. It’s important to visit only those accredited by the Urgent Care Association. A UCA certification is only obtained by mail based on membership and application. On the other hand, a UCA accreditation involves maintaining suitable standards verified through site visits by UCA examiners.

The main complaint of patients is that they spend more time in the waiting room than with a doctor. Studies show that across the United States, most patients meet their doctor for only 17 minutes despite having an hour-long appointment.

Time is precious, and the last thing you want to do when you’re feeling sick is to wait around at the doctor’s office. Find out more information about average appointment lengths and how to cut down on your wait time.

Average length of an urgent care visit

Many factors that affect how long a doctor’s visit will be your:

  • Appointment: How long you spend at the doctor’s office depends on whether you walked in or scheduled an appointment. It is more likely that those with appointments will be prioritized, especially if their appointment is scheduled at a specific time.
  • Emergencies: There are times when some patients require immediate medical attention. Staff may prioritize patients who need to be seen as soon as possible in situations that are not life-threatening.

This is the flow in any urgent care setting. The staff’s constantly dealing with the unknown. Therefore, making a definitive statement on the average appointment length is challenging. 

On a good day, with a few people in line before you, you could get in and out in under an hour. When the clinic is full and you have a complicated medical concern, your visit may take longer than expected. 

Tips to prevent long urgent care appointments

Choose a convenient location

Most patients have busy work schedules and simply cannot waste a whole day in a waiting room. You can reduce the amount of time spent at urgent care centers by choosing one with a convenient location, such as one near public transportation. This way, you can get seen or treated quickly when you come in.

Just make sure that you don’t rush through your appointment. The doctors should be able to answer all your questions thoroughly and pay attention to the symptoms you describe.

Book an appointment

Make an appointment. With a scheduled appointment, you’re guaranteed to meet with the doctor. You won’t have to worry about slipping in before the doors close and hoping you’ll be seen by one of the staff members. 

Appointments are designed so you can walk right in before your scheduled consultation and typically head home in well under an hour. You can call an emergency clinic directly or visit their website to book an appointment. Your chosen urgent care center may also have an app that allows you to schedule an appointment.

Book a virtual session

Another way to make sure that you’re getting the quality care you need is through telemedicine. Online appointments are like traditional urgent care visits but more convenient. 

You can schedule an appointment with your online doctor from anywhere as long as you have a reliable wifi connection. During your virtual consultation, the doctor can diagnose conditions and answer your questions from the comfort of your house.

So far, online doctor services have been a great success for patients. Customers who use the service love it. A telemedicine provider can order tests, send out medication refills, prescribe medications, and email your sick note for work.

Use your patient portal

Some centers make test results available online so patients won’t have to wait or come back another day just to get them. Some do this so patients can check their results privately, such as in the case of STD testing. If you plan to go to an urgent care center, check to see if they have an online portal where you can access your STD test results, or any other test results.

Come prepared and ready

If you’re going for a DOT or CDL physical examination, make sure that you come with all the correct information and items required, like prescription eyeglasses or hearing aids. Having a complete list of your medications and questions you may need to ask the doctor will make your appointment go smoothly.

What if my urgent care appointment isn’t long enough?

Do you frequently leave doctor’s offices wanting a little more information? Or maybe you need a little more guidance as you navigate your treatment plan? You may want to book a follow-up in-person or online doctor appointment in these cases. Or you may want to find another urgent care center that really values its patients if your doctor consistently cuts your appointment short without valid reason.

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