Family practice: Is the convenience of minute-clinics worth it?

High quality care for your kids hinges on having a good pediatrician. File photo High quality care for your kids hinges on having a good pediatrician. File photo

The end of summer and the beginning of a new school year always brings new families to town looking for the best medical care for their children. When thinking about the doctor’s office for your children, it is important to look for high quality care with experienced pediatric physicians, access at the times and dates that you need it, and continuity of health care across both sick visits and check-ups.

It seems everywhere you look, an urgent care clinic opens up on another corner around town. Especially this time of year, it’s probably tempting to just drop into one of these clinics for sports physicals and other checkups. But when it comes to your infant, child, or adolescent, it’s important to seek medical care with your regular pediatrician. The American Academy of Pediatrics refers to this as the medical home, and defines the model as one that “delivers primary care that is accessible, continuous, comprehensive, family-centered, coordinated, compassionate, and culturally effective to all children and youth.”

When you want high quality care for your kids, remember that each visit to the doctor’s office is an opportunity to evaluate growth, development, immunization records, and his/her social and emotional development. If health care is delivered across multiple clinics, emergency rooms, and doctor’s offices then it is much more difficult to give comprehensive and quality care to your child. Your doctor will know your child’s medical history and is an expert in all aspects of your child’s development and can provide continuity of care that is particularly important as children grow up.

If you do seek care at an urgent care clinic or the emergency room for any reason, ask them to send records of the visit to your primary care doctor or ask to take something with you when you go. Then call your doctor’s office and fill them in, in case there’s a need for a follow-up.

If you are not sure what urgent care and after hours services your doctor’s office offers, this is a good time to ask them about their policies and learn how to access your pediatrician in the evenings and on weekends should you need them.—Paige Perriello