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Walk-In Clinics: The Ideal Medical Option For Patients In Canada

by Melissa Bell
5 minutes read

Need medical care, but don’t have a family doctor or reach one? How about walk-in clinics? Not everyone has a flexible schedule that matches booking medical appointments. It gets even harder for those who have to deal with long wait times.

Walk-in clinics are bringing a game-changer to the medical industry. Apart from the fact that they provide medical services without the need for appointments, they are also ideal for people who don’t have healthcare plans.

Walk-in clinics are common in Canada and have been present in the country for over two decades. They play a key role in expanding healthcare coverage while providing affordable medical attention.

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Common Medical Problems Treated at Walk-In Clinics

Walk-in clinics have long been recognized for their availability, accessibility, low fees, and convenience. Patients can receive medical treatment for non-life-threatening illnesses and injuries, including, but not limited to:

  • Bronchitis
  • Muscle pains
  • Minor sprains, strain, and fractures
  • Cold
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Sore throats
  • Diarrhoea
  • Minor cuts, wounds, scrapes
  • Slight burns
  • Ear infection and injury
  • Nausea and dehydration

Some walk-in medical centres go as far as monitoring a patient’s progress, especially those with severe medical conditions, like hypertension and diabetes.

What Is the Importance of Walk-In Clinics in Canada?

Many Canadians rely heavily on medical services provided by walk-in facilities. Several reasons account for this occurrence, including the fact that most of them don’t have a family doctor. This is the case for 800,000 people living in Ontario.

Their only means of medical care is through these drive-through facilities. Without them, these individuals will have problems receiving treatment for various injuries and illnesses, since they are not covered by public health insurance.

While some people may not have family doctors, others are unable to see them owing to demanding work schedules. They are only free during odd hours of the day when the traditional clinics are closed. Then some people prefer walk-in clinics due to the convenience they provide.

They could be seeking a more convenient approach to get their conditions treated. A patient with a bad knee, for example, may not want to take time from work to go to a regular clinic to receive treatment.  As a result, the individual may visit walk-in clinics.

These clinics are resourceful to patients seeking a quick and affordable medical consultation. They are generally open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Sunday, and even on holidays. Since they are not subject to the same strict scheduling requirements as traditional medical clinics, they can be the perfect fit for people who don’t have flexible work hours.

Facts About Walk-In Clinics

Finding the right walk-in medical centre requires thorough research. Patients should know what to expect while visiting these centres, some of which are discussed below.

Specific Medical Documents are Required

Although walk-in clinics don’t any appointments, patients must present specific medical documents. Medical history, identity documents, prescription notes, and evidence of insurance for a non-work-related injury are among the detail required. Without them, the walk-in clinic may not provide treatment.

Walk-In Clinics Don’t Replace Primary Healthcare Centres

Walk-in medical care centres are only ideal for temporary and mild health conditions. Severe or chronic illnesses, diseases, and injuries are to be handled by primary care hospitals. Likewise, medical specialists in these walk-ins can’t override the role of family doctors.

Walk-In Clinics Are Not Ideal for Emergencies

Patients with serious medical issues should go to an emergency room rather than a walk-in clinic. The latter may lack the necessary expertise or medical equipment to address serious health situations such as birthing injuries or heart attacks.

How to Select the Right Walk-In Clinic

Walk-in clinics are becoming more common in the healthcare system. However, before choosing one of these institutions, a patient should consider the following:

  • Available treatment service provided
  • The medical practitioners’ areas of interest
  • Quality of care provided
  • The amount charged as well as any insurance coverage that may be available

How Walk-In Clinics Work in Canada

Patients in Canada do not require an appointment to obtain medical care, nor do they require a long-term commitment with the clinic. Most of these clinics are privately owned. What’s more? These facilities are equipped with physical and administrative frameworks. Physicians are available to treat minor and brief illnesses and injuries such as sprains, sore throats, and the flu. OHIP pays them on a fee-for-service basis.

Some of these Canadian walk-in clinics also offer on-site family practises, which may account for up to 30% of the business. The medical specialists that work here range from new medical graduates to experienced family doctors who have retired from their clinics but wish to continue working.Patients who choose to have a family doctor sign a contract stating that they would not attend walk-in clinics. Nothing, however, prohibits them from visiting these facilities. Furthermore, they are not required to pay for such medical visits.

The family doctor, on the other hand, is penalised for such visits if the family medical facility is financed on a capitation basis.According to the capitation model, family doctors are paid a fixed rate for the services that their patients require. As a result, they are responsible for meeting those medical requirements. When these patients go to walk-in clinics, they tend to lose.

For example, if a patient enters a clinic for ear infection treatment and pays $50 in medical expenses, the family doctor loses $50. Despite the fact that the penalty for each patient is capped, this medical system fosters competition between traditional healthcare institutions and walk-in clinics.

Treatment Cost at Walk-In Clinics

Canadian patients who aren’t covered by OHIP should expect to spend between $50 and $150 for medical treatment. The treatment cost is cheaper for Canadians who don’t have a valid health card. Foreign residents, on the other hand, would have to pay higher medical fees.

Weekend and holiday medical care may incur additional charges and be provided dependent on particular situations. When compared to the expense of going to an ER, walk-in clinics are less expensive. It is also easier to schedule a medical visit.

Bottom Line

People without a family doctor, life-threatening medical problems, or hectic work schedules will benefit from walk-in clinics. They are less expensive than emergency rooms. In Canada, walk-in clinics bridge the gap in the healthcare system, making treatment available to a wider range of patients, including Canadians and foreign residents. Over time, this field of healthcare service will expand to include more provisions.

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