The average wait time in a California emergency room is 2 hours and 49 minutes. Compare this to the average wait time at a California urgent care. Blue Shield California reports that the average wait time for urgent care is under an hour. It can be substantially less than an hour when you take a few steps to minimize the wait times.

You’re already busy and a long wait to see a doctor isn’t appealing. You’re already using up lunch breaks or time when you should be cleaning or running errands. You might not want to be in a room where people are sick and constantly coughing and potentially spreading germs. What are the best ways to decrease the amount of time you spend in a waiting room?

Understand What Factors Trigger Longer Wait Times

When you know what triggers a longer wait at an urgent care clinic, you’ll find it’s easier to dodge those periods. One of the biggest reasons for a long wait is simply demand. Certain times of the day are busier than others. You’re not the only person trying to fit in the visit during your commute to or from work, after school, or during a lunch break. If you can stagger your lunch to 1 p.m., you may find there’s a shorter wait.

An urgent care clinic sees patient counts increase after big gatherings. When people gather for a party, holiday celebration, or indoor concert, viruses get passed around more. With an uptick in flu and COVID cases after a gathering, urgent care centers see more people coming in for treatment.

When there’s a big game, sports-related injuries are also more likely to happen. That can increase the number of people seeking urgent care. If you stop to think about when people are more likely to need urgent care, it can save you time and frustration.

Tips to Strategize for a Shorter Wait Time

What are the best ways to ensure shorter waits for urgent care? Here are our best tips.

Use Online Check-In to Save Time

When a Fresno urgent care practice offers online check-in, you save time. Check in before you arrive to get in line faster. You can also fill out the required paperwork ahead of time, and that speeds up the registration process.

Online check-in is also very easy to use. Fill out the form that asks questions like these:

  • Why you need to see a doctor
  • Your name and date of birth
  • Contact and billing information
  • A copy of a photo ID
  • Medication insurance information
  • Whether you’re new to the urgent care practice or not
  • Who your emergency contact is
  • Your employment information, if applicable

Check Google for the Popular Times

Use Google’s “Places” listing to find a Fresno urgent care near you. Once you do, click on one of the urgent care practices. A map and grid of information appear. Scroll down to “Popular Times” to discover when the practice is busy and when it’s not as bad. You’ll also notice it tells you the average time a patient spends at that practice.

For example, if you look at Premium Urgent Care on a Friday, you’ll see that 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. are busy, but 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. are usually the busiest. If you can go at 9 a.m. or 1 p.m., the wait tends to be shorter. If you can wait until Sunday, it’s even better. 

Look for Locations in Less Busy Areas

Some urgent care facilities are busier than others simply because of their location. If you don’t have time to wait, looking for urgent care away from busier areas may help.

Check That Your Insurance Is Accepted

If the urgent care practice doesn’t accept your insurance, you’ll have to pay out of pocket. Take time to ensure your insurance is accepted. Call the office if you’re not sure and can’t find the information you need online.

Know What Urgent Care Helps With

If you go to urgent care for medical care, make sure you know what the purpose of urgent care is. If you have an issue urgent care can’t handle, you’ll be redirected to the ER, and that is frustrating and wastes time.

If you fall down the stairs and have a bad fracture that will clearly need surgery, urgent care is unable to treat things like compound fractures. Urgent care is not the right choice for third-degree burns. If you suspect you’re having a heart attack, call 911 and get to an ER. 

Urgent care is ideal for sprains, cuts that need stitches, vaccinations, UTIs, severe colds, and the flu. If you have an earache, urgent care can help. You can also go to urgent care for COVID tests required by your employer when you need extended time off. Urgent care can pull out a splinter that you’re struggling to get out and diagnose and treat rashes.

Have Everything That’s Needed to Speed Up an Appointment

When you arrive for your urgent care appointment, make sure you have everything that’s needed. Fill out the forms online, have your insurance card handy, and bring any prescription bottles or OTC medications you take regularly. If you don’t want to carry the pill bottles with you, take photos of them on your phone and show them. 

The doctor is looking for what you take and the dosage. If additional medications are needed, this information is crucial for preventing overdoses and conflicts that can make certain medications less effective.

Wear an Outfit That’s Easy to Take Off and Put Back On

If you have an outfit that’s easy to take off and put back on, you can shave several minutes off your appointment time. Having to put on jeans and a pullover is much easier than dress pants, a dress shirt or blouse, a tie, and lace-up boots. It gets you on your way faster, which can be helpful if you’re going back to work or have errands to run.

Take Advantage of Telemedicine Appointments

In the pandemic, telemedicine became a great way to see a doctor without having to go to the practice. It’s still a popular option and eliminates waits at an urgent care practice. 

You’ll talk online via video chat. It’s especially helpful for talking to a doctor about allergies, a cough or sore through, aches and pains, or a rash. You can use a smartphone, laptop, or computer for this video chat, which makes it easy to find a quiet location for this video chat with a doctor.

Premium Urgent Care in Fresno offers telemedicine and online check-in. You can also schedule an appointment if you are hoping to talk to a doctor about a doctor-approved weight loss plan. Our office is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. all week long, even on weekends. Our last walk-in is at 6:30 p.m., so make sure you arrive in time for a doctor to have time to determine what’s going on.