Choosing the Right Provider

Choosing the Right Provider
Everyone wants high-quality healthcare, but it's wrong to assume spending more improves quality of care. Recent studies show that getting the right care, at the right time, for the right reason yields the best outcomes for patients. Read on for help deciding where and when to get the care you need.

Doctor's Office or Clinic
No one understands your medical situation better than your personal physician. When he or she knows about all of the care you're getting, your physician is in a better position to guide you to the care you need, avoid the care you don't, and set the stage for the best possible outcomes. That's why your doctor's office or clinic should be your first choice for:

  • Common illnesses (colds, flu, ear aches, sore throats, migraines, fever, rashes, etc.)
  • Minor injuries (sprains, back pain, minor cuts and burns, minor broken bones, minor eye injuries, etc.)
  • Regular physicals, prescription refills, vaccinations, and screenings

An office or clinic might be open only during regular business hours, so scheduling is not always convenient. However, some very reputable clinics have extended hours and weekend appointment available. Otherwise, consider an urgent care clinic.

Urgent Care Clinic
When your regular doctor is not available, an urgent care clinic is the next best place to treat non-emergency medical problems. These clinics offer the convenience of walk-in appointments, and they are usually open on evenings and weekends. Urgent care clinics should be used for:

  • Common illnesses (colds, flu, ear aches, sore throats, migraines, fever, rashes, etc.)
  • Minor injuries (sprains, back pain, minor cuts and burns, minor broken bones, minor eye injuries, etc.)

An immediate care clinic can provide the same level of care, but without the convenience of walk-in hours. Immediate care clinics offer same-day appointments, which can be scheduled by phone or online.

Urgent Care/Immediate Care Directory

Emergency Room
The hospital ER or emergency department should be reserved for very serious or life-threatening symptoms, such as:

  • Chest pain
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Coughing or vomiting blood
  • Severe burns
  • Deep cuts or bleeding that won't stop
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Sudden dizziness, weakness, loss of coordination or balance
  • Numbness in the face, arm or leg
  • Sudden, severe headache
  • Seizures
  • High fevers

The hospital ER is one of the most expensive options for medical care, but paying more doesn't improve quality. Consider the following:

  • Emergency rooms can be crowded, often the result of people who might be sick but are not suffering life-threatening symptoms. This creates long waiting times and drives up health care costs for everyone.
  • ER visits aren't usually recorded in a patient's medical record, which could have life-threatening implications in the future.

Try the Aetna Informed Health® Line
When you're not sure what to do or where to go, chatting with a registered nurse can help you make an informed decision. The Informed Health Line is available 24 hours a day, and it's free for carpenters and dependents with health coverage.