ER, InstaCare, or Connect Care? Intermountain Health Gives Tips to Save You Time & Money

Knowing the proper level of care during a health emergency can save time and money.

Cold and flu season is here, and individuals and families might start to ask: Where’s the best place to go to get the appropriate care I need?

Although the most economical option might be your primary care physician, you might not be able to get an appointment right away. Or you might have an emergency that needs a higher level of care. It’s common to turn to the emergency room for help, but for many illnesses and injuries, patients can get the same care at a lower cost – and get it faster – by turning to an urgent care clinic, such as InstaCare, or telehealth service, such as Connect Care.

Intermountain Health has created an online list of situations to help patients choose where they should go for care at https://intermountainhealthcare.org/get-care-now/. For example, people should go to an ER if they experience chest pain or pressure, severe bleeding, a head injury, or trouble breathing. An urgent care or telehealth visit would be better for less serious issues such as cough, fever, and other illness.

Here is information on each service:

Connect Care

Connect Care is designed for common, low-level, urgent care concerns and can be accessed 24/7 from anywhere using a mobile device or computer with a camera and video-streaming capabilities.

Frequently treated conditions include sinus pain, stuffy and runny nose, sore throat, eye infections, urinary tract infection, lower back pain, and bronchitis. If a Connect Care provider feels that your medical issue cannot be adequately diagnosed or treated by a video visit and requires immediate in person evaluation, the provider will direct you to in-person care and waive your Connect Care fee.

  • Cost: $69
  • Covered by many insurance plans, including Medicaid – check with your insurer to determine coverage and co-pay
  • Is not covered by Medicare
  • Best for: common, non-life-threatening conditions
  • Adult and pediatric care.
  • Care provided by board-certified advanced practice clinicians (nurse practitioners and physicians assistants)
  • Can prescribe most types of medications if needed, but not controlled substance medications.
  • Does not provide lab services, imaging, or other tests
  • 24/7 access from anywhere on a mobile device or computer

InstaCare

Intermountain InstaCares provide care through licensed physicians and specialized staff to handle non-life-threatening urgent care needs, from sore throats and illnesses to cuts or broken bones.

  • Cost: Varies
  • Covered by many insurance plans – check with your insurer to determine coverage and copay
  • Covered by Medicare and Medicaid
  • Best for: common, non-life-threatening conditions
  • Care provided by board-certified physicians and specialized staff
  • Can prescribe medication
  • Offer lab services, X-rays, and some outpatient tests
  • Access at physical location. Most InstaCares are open as early as 8 a.m. and close at 8 or 9 p.m., though some have extended hours as late as midnight. KidsCares are generally open from 4 or 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., with variable weekend hours.
  • The website also lists InstaCare and KidsCare locations nearby and estimated wait times. Patients can also use the site to sign up on a waiting list before they arrive.

Emergency Room

Intermountain emergency rooms are open 24/7 and are staffed with doctors, nurses, and technicians who are specially trained to handle potentially severe and/or life-threatening conditions.

  • Cost: Varies
  • Covered by all insurance plans in emergency situations
  • Covered by Medicare and Medicaid
  • Best for: potential limb, functional or life-threatening conditions
  • Care provided by board-certified emergency physicians, nurses, technicians, and support staff
  • Can prescribe medication
  • Offers lab services, X-rays, specialized care, and tests (both inpatient and outpatient)
  • 24/7 access at a physical location

According to the American College of Emergency Physicians, you should visit the ER if you have any of these warning signs:

  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Severe headache or head injury
  • Severe bleeding
  • Sudden or severe pain
  • Coughing blood or vomiting blood
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Sudden dizziness, weakness, or changes in vision
  • Severe or persistent vomiting or diarrhea
  • Changes in mental status, such as confusion or weakness
  • Evaluation of an assault, physical or sexual abuse, or child abuse.
  • Severe infection
  • Complications of early pregnancy
  • Abdominal pain that is severe or with repeated and persistent vomiting

Intermountain has recently opened a brand new, stand-alone emergency department in Saratoga Springs and another in Hurricane. “Both emergency departments are fully functional centers equipped with life-saving equipment and trained professionals, much like what you would expect at the emergency department the hospital,” said Nate Miller, MD, Intermountain Health Saratoga Springs Emergency Department medical director.

“We have access to in-house labs, state-of-the-art imaging facilities, and trained professionals that are right here. Since about 85% of the patients who come to an emergency department end up being discharged home, that just means that the great majority of patients that we will see here will be able to get all of their emergency care and treatment taken care of right here in the community,” added Dr. Miller.

Dr. Miller explained Saratoga Springs is an extension of Intermountain American Fork Hospital, and Hurricane Emergency Department of Intermountain St. Geoge Regional Hospital. “We are an extension of the American Fork Hospital, and we will be giving the same exceptional care here.”

“We are so excited to be a part of one of the fastest growing communities in Utah,” said Dr. Miller. “We want to see everyone get the proper care they need, whether from us, Connect Care, or their own primary care doctor.”

To find emergency care, check symptoms, or get care online, just go to https://intermountainhealthcare.org/get-care-now/.

About Intermountain Health

Headquartered in Utah with locations in seven states and additional operations across the western U.S., Intermountain Health is a nonprofit system of 33 hospitals, 385 clinics, medical groups with some 3,900 employed physicians and advanced care providers, a health plans division called Select Health with more than one million members, and other health services. Helping people live the healthiest lives possible, Intermountain is committed to improving community health and is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes at sustainable costs. For more information or updates, see https://intermountainhealthcare.org/news.

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