While going for a medical treatment it is important to identify the type of care needed at that given time. If it is a critical case, then neither the walk-in clinics nor the urgent care centers are of any use. At such times, the hospital ER is the first option to be approached. For a minor ailment like flu and common cold, walk-in clinics are the best options but for a more serious illness, one should choose the urgent care clinic.
The services provided between the two are also slightly different as both the places serve two slightly different medical cases.
In the present times, more and more people are looking towards walk-in clinics and urgent care centers instead of the hospital emergency rooms or even the physician. Even thought both the facilities provide primary medical care, yet there is a slight line of demarcation between the two and what they might offer.
Walk-in Clinics are designed to treat common ailments like sinus, flu or strep throat. They provide basic primary health care and are staffed by a Nurse Practitioner or at the most Physician’s Assistant. They are authorized to write prescriptions to treat the symptoms. The walk-in clinics are designed to be convenient and low-cost.
Urgent Care Clinics are essentially walk-in clinics but serve the patients who are suffering from acute illnesses and injuries and which are beyond the capacities of a regular walk-in clinic. It is open for extended hours and is open for patients with non-life threatening injuries and illnesses. The initial urgent care clinics were opened in 1970s and they have grown in numbers since.
Difference between Walk-in and Urgent Care Centers:
The main difference between the two lies in the cost of the treatment. The walk-in clinics cost less as compared to the latter.