If you’re a follower of our stuff, you may have noticed that we talk about “convenience care” quite a lot. Its something that we believe in and can get pretty fired up about (don’t judge, some people like celebrities, some people like health-tech startups). Its occurred to me that we should really do an article that focuses more squarely on convenience care and why you should care about it. But before we get to that, lets just look at providing a definition of convenience care so that we can get on the same page.
I’m going to define convenience care as this: Any service designed to offer fast medical care for common ailments, most often delivered at a greatly reduced cost. These are commonly staffed by physician assistants or nurse practitioners and should be relied upon for minor medical situations. Check out a breakdown of the different kinds of services here.
It starts to get a bit more confusing when you consider that there are different types of convenience care clinics that you can attend. Some virtual, some in person. But in order for you to understand the how (and why) these apply to you, let’s look at the different kinds:
- Tele-health – This is my personal favorite. My iphone apps mostly consist of music streaming, a good map application and a tele-health service. As with anything, these are going to vary based on your location and benefits provider/plan. But a good tele-health service can be your first line of defense for all things medical. You can often book an appointment in minutes and be video-chatting with someone in less time than it takes to drive to the store. They can also do a lot more than you think, like look at the odd rash or give you a medication refill.
- Walk in clinics – This is your best bet if you need something like a flu shot or a test for strep throat. They’re great for getting a more in-depth service than a tele-health call, but not so in depth that you need to go through the hassle of booking and attending a GP appointment.
- Urgent Care – ok, this is definitely not what we would normally consider “convenience care” because its certainly a level up in price and wait time (and you’ve got to physically go in and wait just like at the GP’s office). But a lot of people do see this type of doctor when they’re unsure so we’re including it for good measure. An urgent care clinic has a lot more capabilities than a walk-in clinic and can even set bones and help with most non-life-threatening issues. However, there is an increased cost associated with that.
This is just a snapshot of what we call the “levels of care”. It’s really important to understand their differences and what they should be used for. And convenience care is really the first level that should be considered. You wouldn’t want to see a brain surgeon for an allergy question, right? Less dramatically, you wouldn’t go to the emergency room for a cold. You could get treatment, but it would be an extreme hassle and you’d pay extortionate amounts for it. Just the same, helping your family or your employees to understand these levels of care (and what the more affordable options are) is really important for a happy workforce and a healthy insurance plan.