What is the Main Difference Between Retail Clinics, Urgent Care, and Primary Care Offices?

Choosing where to get treated for a non-life-threatening injury or illness has become more complicated in recent years with the rise of retail clinics and urgent care centers. While it’s nice to have choices, it can be a little overwhelming too. We’re going to break down what exactly each place does so next time you need care, you know right where to go!  

Retail Clinics

Retail clinics are the small clinics you see inside retail stores, usually pharmacies. These clinics do appear to be convenient and quick, but they don’t offer very many services. Retail clinics usually have a nurse practitioner who can treat fevers, minor scrapes and cuts, rashes, and basic illnesses. Retail clinics also typically offer basic vaccines. These clinics are ideal if you’re already in the retail location and need some quick treatment, but the hours of operation and range of care are limited.  

Urgent Care Centers

Urgent care centers are one of the most rapidly growing areas of our health system. Urgent care centers are unique because they take the best parts of a primary care office, retail clinic, and hospital and combine them into one. An urgent care can be used for things that are emergencies but aren’t life threatening, such as a cut, sprain, broken bone, or sudden onset illness.

Urgent care centers have labs and x-ray machines available on-site so you can get everything done in one place rather than having to leave and go to the lab. In addition to great care for urgent needs, urgent care centers are able to provide physicals, vaccines, and other basic healthcare needs. Urgent care centers open early in the morning and stay open late at night, with some even being open 24 hours per day. There is no appointment required at an urgent care, so you can get treated whenever it fits into your schedule. 

Telemedicine at an Urgent Care Center

AFC Urgent Care Burlington provides telemedicine urgent care for patients that want to remain at home during the COVID-19 pandemic! Patients simply have to call our main telemedicine line to get telemedicine treatment and screenings for their current conditions, without having to risk a trip to our clinic!

Urgent care centers across the U.S offer telemedicine, which is a service that retail clinics are not able to provide easily. Retail clinics require a patient to visit the store or pharmacy in-person, which makes it hard to host a telemedicine service.

Primary Care Offices 

A primary care office is a traditional doctors office setting. This is ideal when you’re looking for continuing care with the same physician for chronic issues that may require a long-term prescription. Primary care offices require an appointment to be seen, so they aren’t good for acute cases that require quick care. Having a primary care provider is always a smart idea in case you need it, but they shouldn’t be you go-to for injury and illness care. 

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