Perhaps the best way to begin describing the difference between Primary Care and Urgent Care would be to use the terms RELATIONSHIP and CONVENIENCE.
Primary Care places a high value on the relationship between a patient and their medical provider. Primary Care physicians will ultimately be more familiar with the medical history of their patients because they have spent many years building a relationship together. History of weight gain or loss, blood pressure problems, past illnesses, and medications being used will be at the primary care provider’s fingertips. They will be familiar with a patient’s family history and often treat a person through many stages of life. Primary care practices are the optimal place to deal with long-term issues such as chronic illness, nutrition/dietary advice, and stress management.
Urgent Care places a high value on making medical care convenient. Often, Urgent Care facilities are open for extended time periods outside of normal working hours. In addition, walk-in patients are perfectly acceptable and appointments are not required. Urgent Care is the optimal choice when it is impossible to get into a primary care facility in a timely manner. In addition, Urgent care medical providers have immediate access to x-ray machines and laboratory equipment that are not always standard fare at primary care facilities. When time is a factor, patients suddenly finding themselves in need of medical care can usually be treated faster in an Urgent Care facility than anywhere else.