Getting medical care when your doctor’s office is closed can pose quite the situation, as this leaves you without a clear place to go. Of course, you could go to your nearest emergency room, but this is something that is typically regarded as less than ideal for those who have less than emergent medical conditions. Not only will the emergency room take a long time to be seen in (the average wait time is currently around one hour all throughout the country), but it will be hugely expensive as well.
Fortunately, a number of alternatives are developing and becoming more prevalent. For one thing, your doctor might be extending their hours, something that is becoming more and more common. Already, more than one third (around 40%) of all GPs now work on weekends and in evenings, at least to some extent. In general, the average GP will offer care for at least 31 hours a week, if not even more, a number that has continued to rise with the years. This allows the typical GP to conduct as many as 3,500 different visits over the course of just one typical year.
More and more general practitioners are even becoming online doctors of a sort, setting up the option for telemedicine once their brick and mortar office hours are over. Though there is some hesitancy to use virtual healthcare platforms, an online doctor that is already known goes over much better. In fact, if a virtual doctor is the patient’s own provider, more than half of all people are willing to utilize services of telemedicine during periods of closure for the actual office.
An online doctor, after all, can provide convenient medical care and fast answers – something that can help the patient to determine what their next steps might be. And while an online doctor will not replace in person medical care, the online doctor can serve as the stepping stone to such care, providing in the moment medical advice that patients likely need. But in order for the role of the online doctor to be successful, it is critical that the online doctor in question have access to the patient’s records. This is a view that is quite widely shared, with more than two thirds of all people agreeing that a telemedicine company and the specific online doctor should have access to medical records, as this will allow the online doctor working to provide the best and most comprehensive medical care and advice.
Outside of the world of the online doctor, on-demand care exists in other forms as well. The 24 hour urgent care center is a great example. Like the online doctor, urgent care center doctors can provide fast and efficient health care for a wide array of conditions, from injuries to illnesses to even certain aspects of preventative care. If you’re looking to see a doctor in person, avoid the online doctor and go to an urgent care doctor. After all, more than 90% of all urgent care centers have average wait times of no more than a mere half of an hour. In addition to this, up to 60% of all such urgent care locations are able to cut down their average wait times to no more than a mere 15 minutes – certainly not a very long time at all. It is not uncommon, therefore, for patients to get into an urgent care clinic, see a doctor and be treated, and be sent on their way all within the span of just one hour. And urgent care locations will be much more cost effective than going to the typical emergency room as well, something that will certainly be taken into account by a great many people found all throughout the country.
Ultimately, there are many ways to get ahold of a doctor even once your typical doctor’s office has closed for the day. For many people, an online doctor will more than suffice until they are able to see one in person. For others, going to a local 24 hour urgent care center provides a great option as well. Ultimately, the options are growing more plentiful with time.