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Urgent Care vs. ER - What to know and when to go

February 23, 2017

By Dr. Sunil Budhrani, Chief Medical Officer & Chief Medical Informatics Officer at Innovation Health 

You aren’t feeling well but your primary care physician’s office is closed and you need to see a doctor now. For many in Northern Virginia your first thought may be to go to the ER, because you know it’s open and you don’t need an appointment. But the ER can be expensive and if it’s busy you may wait for care.

As an ER doctor I know that not everyone is aware that for many of their medical needs an urgent care could be a faster, more cost effective option. An average urgent care visit can save you hundreds in medical costs compared to a trip to the ER. And a recent a national study found that 90 percent of urgent care visits lasted less than an hour. What’s more, heading to an urgent care can put you on the road to recovery faster than waiting at an ER for a non-emergency.

Urgent care centers help handle minor injuries, sore throats and runny noses, and can even help you and your family with physicals for sports and school. These centers also have extended hours and a few are even open 24/7.

While an urgent care can help you with non-life threatening symptoms like coughs and colds, the nearest ER is the right choice if your symptoms are severe, like chest pain, shortness of breath, abdominal pain, weakness or difficult speaking.  

We’ve developed a handy chart to help you decide where to seek care the next time you aren’t feeling well and your doctor’s office is closed. 

Once you decide which is right for you, it’s time to get you feeling better! Inova has 15 urgent care centers in Northern Virginia that are open 7 days a week with no appointment required. Find your nearest urgent care center here. And if your symptoms require care at an ER, you can use the Inova app to find your nearest ER and check wait times.

Be sure to download and print your own copy so you can always find the care that’s right for you!

About Innovation Health
Innovation Health provides health benefit plans to more than 190,000 members. The product of a uniqueAetnaandInova Health System partnership,Innovation Health began offering health benefit plans in October of 2013 as a new way to deliver and finance more affordable, quality health care for employers and individuals in Northern Virginia. Through our integrated care model, Innovation Health combines a premier health plan, health system, and physicians for improved health outcomes and cost savings.
 
Innovation Health plans are available to individuals and businesses of all sizes in Arlington County, Clarke County, Fairfax County, Frederick County, Loudon County, Page County, Prince William County, Shenandoah County, Spotsylvania County and Stafford County. Individuals residing in these counties can purchase health plans directly from Innovation Health atinnovation-health.comor through theVirginia Exchange website for the 2017 open enrollment.For more information on Innovation Health, our plans and how we can help you, visit ourwebsite.