There are times of the year when healthcare facilities are busier than normal. When that happens, it’s best to know where to go for care, so you can get into the doctor and get back to feeling like yourself. Dr. Patricia Newland, UnityPoint Health, gives these four insider tips to get a quick doctor’s visit.
1. Start with Your Primary Care Doctor
It’s always best to start by trying to get an appointment with your primary care provider (PCP), since they know you best.
If your provider doesn’t have an opening the day you need to get in, try visiting with another physician, nurse practitioner or physician assistant at your same clinic. In many clinics, advanced practitioners offer same-day or next-day appointments so you can get in at a time that’s convenient for you.
“I’m not sure people understand the role of our advanced practitioners,” Dr. Newland says. “Advanced practitioners work in a care team with our physicians, nurses and front desk team members. Each team member brings a different skill set to the synergy of the clinic. Our advanced practitioners are excellent providers, and if they ever need guidance or advice, they may go to their physician colleagues. This may work vice versa, as well.”
An added perk, if you visit with an advanced practitioner you particularly like, you can assign them as your primary care provider. It might make getting in for last-minute visits, vaccinations and physicals a bit easier, too.
2. Use MyUnityPoint to Schedule Online
The patient portal, called MyUnityPoint, has lots of useful tools. Maybe most importantly, it can help you get into the doctor faster by allowing you to schedule an appointment with your provider without even picking up the phone. You can just log on the website or app and find a provider you’ve seen before to schedule an appointment. Did you schedule an appointment for later in the week, then your boss scheduled an important meeting? No big deal! You can hop on the portal and change your appointment to another available time.
3. Check Out Urgent Care Online Tools
When your primary doctor isn’t an option, or you have immediate (but not emergent) needs, it’s best to seek out urgent care. When selecting a location, make sure to check out the wait times at nearby UnityPoint Clinic Urgent Care or UnityPoint Clinic – Express. Some, but not all, UnityPoint Clinic Urgent Care facilities also have a reserve your spot tool where you can select a window of time to see a provider.
“Our goal is for you not to wait at all. We want to respect your time in every way possible. However, we know certain times of the year can get busy. That’s when these tools are great to use,” Dr. Newland says.
4. Go with Virtual Care
You doctor is booked, and urgent care wait lines are long — what’s next? Have common conditions like UTI, pink eye, sinus infection, fever or flu treated by UnityPoint Health Virtual Care.
Virtual urgent care gives you online access to a team of UnityPoint Health medical experts 24/7, including holidays and weekends. The providers can diagnose, recommend treatment and prescribe medication. Your virtual care visit is billed similarly to an in-person office visit, however, it's always best to check with your insurance company on what virtual care/telehealth services are covered before you log in to MyUnityPoint to get started with your care.
“You can do it from home! You can use this telehealth option at one o’clock in the morning if you develop an itchy poison ivy rash and then stop at the pharmacy in the morning to get treatment started right away. It’s very convenient option to consider,” Dr. Newland says.
When It’s an Emergency
Remember, anyone with a true emergency, like chest pain, stroke symptoms or serious illness or injury, should call 911 or head to the emergency department immediately. The emergency room is a place that should be reserved for only life-threatening injuries and illness.
Overall, if you're still not sure what to do, check out our where to go for care page for more information on what's offered at locations near you.
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