Walk-In Clinic – What’s in a Name?

posted on: July 15, 2016    |    by: Nina Tarnay

Walk-in clinic.  Immediate care center.  Retail clinic.  Convenient care clinic.  Urgent care center.  Are these terms the same?  If not, how are they different?  What gives?

As it turns out, these terms are not in fact equivalent even though they are often used that way by the media and businesses alike.  While there isn’t broad consensus about precise definitions, most experts agree on the following.

“Walk-in clinic” is the most general term and this refers to…you guessed it…places where you can walk in without an appointment. The other terms represent types of walk-in clinics, with the most common being retail clinics, urgent care centers, and emergency rooms.

  • Retail clinics, also known as convenient care clinics or immediate care centers, are walk-in clinics located in a retail environment (vs. a hospital or doctor’s office building) that service routine, acute conditions. Retail clinic services may include the evaluation and treatment of minor injuries and illnesses such cold and flu symptoms, strep throat, urinary tract infections, and skin rashes. Some retail clinics also offer vaccinations, physicals, and health screenings.  WellNow is a retail clinic.
  • Urgent care is the most well recognized term for non-ER walk-in clinics.  These centers provide care for the conditions handled at retail clinics as well as more severe acute health issues such as broken bones, burns, and large lacerations.
  • Emergency rooms, typically located in a hospital, are the most expensive and least convenient walk-in option. While they have these limitations, ERs are where you go for all life-threatening emergencies.

For more information, check out https://www.urgentcarelocations.com/urgent-care-101/faq/urgent-care-center-vs-walk-in-clinic

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