ER, Urgent Care or Virtual Visit: Must-Know Tips to Help You Choose

Flu Shot Information

Make an Appointment                 Get a Flu Shot

Do you know where to go to be treated for colds and flu? Check out our handy guide to see what’s right for you.

Doctor’s office, urgent care, emergency care or Virtual Visit? We have many choices when it comes to our medical care, but it’s important to know which choice is right for your situation or condition. We asked Luis Palacio, M.D., with Renown Urgent Care to explain the differences and how to make your visit as smooth as possible. 

When and Where to Receive Care

If you have been experiencing flu-like symptoms for less than 48 hours, call your doctor’s office to see if you can be treated with a prescription antiviral medicine.

Visit urgent care or the emergency room only if you are unable to eat or drink anything and may be dehydrated, have a fever over 102.5 degrees F, or are experiencing shortness of breath.

You can use Renown’s Virtual Visits videoconference service for flu-like symptoms so that you don’t need to leave the comfort of your home and you reduce the risk of spreading the virus to others. Virtual Visits allow you to see an urgent care provider from your home or office using a cellphone, computer or tablet with video capabilities. It is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. 


How to Navigate Urgent Care

From your phone or computer, you can check urgent care wait times around our region. This lets you see if the urgent care by your office is busier than the one closest to home — which may help your planning.

Through our virtual check-in system, you can also join the line at a specific urgent care just as you would in person, allowing you to stay home or at work as long as possible so you are more comfortable and your appointment goes as quickly as possible

What Are the Steps for Virtual Check-in?

First, go to to check in virtually.

On this page, you’ll get an explanation of what virtual check-in is all about: It allows you to stay where you are and receive text notifications once a care provider is almost ready to see you.

Click “join a line,” and we will ask you some questions about your symptoms to make sure you don’t need to call 911 or go to the ER. These include stroke, chest pain, severe shortness of breath, uncontrolled bleeding, seizures and severe allergic reaction.

If you answer “no,” you will see the wait times for each urgent care location. If you need to get in right away, you can pick the location with the shortest wait time. Or, if time is not an issue and you’d prefer to stay closer to your home or office, you can pick that location.

Once you’ve selected a location, you input your cellphone number, name and number of patients. As your appointment gets closer, the urgent care will text you updates to let you know how soon you’ll be seen. When you get the text message, you can choose to get “more time” and have your appointment pushed back or tell them you’re ready to be seen and on your way.

Learn more about Renown’s urgent care locations and virtual check-in online, or see our handy guide below to choosing between the ER and urgent care. 



  1. I've been looking for some good urgent care options for my family, and I think that being able to get some tips would be good. I'm glad you talked about being able to look at wait times for urgent care online. I'm going to have to keep that in mind next time we need to go in, and see what we find! Thanks!
  2. Thank you for all this great information about choosing your care facility. One thing that really stood out to me is that you can actually check the wait times of different urgent care centers from your phone! It would be nice to know that you will be able to choose the one that will treat you the quickest.
    • Hello Frank, Thank you for your feedback! We're glad you enjoy the convenience of mobile check-in. It can be a game-changer! In good health, Roseann Langlois