Karen Garloch

Now available: Appointments for urgent care at Carolinas HealthCare

Patients can now make online appointments for urgent care at 28 locations across Carolinas HealthCare System.

Hospital officials Monday announced the launch of an electronic reservation system that has already cut waiting times an average of 64 percent at three urgent care centers during a pilot project.

Instead of taking walk-ins only, urgent care centers in Carolinas HealthCare can now be accessed from smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers. Patients can check in and schedule appointments, allowing them to wait in convenient places – at home or in a coffee shop – instead of spending time in a waiting room with other sick people.

Appointments can be made through the hospital system’s website, www.carolinashealthcare.org/urgentcare, or through the Carolinas HealthCare System app, available at the Apple App Store and on Google Play. Using the app, patients can log on, find a convenient urgent care center, and click “Reserve Your Spot.” Once patients select a time and opt in to receive text message updates, they will receive alerts as the reservation time approaches.

“Through the new online reservation system, a parent tending to a sick child at home doesn’t have to leave home until it’s close to their urgent care reservation,” said Steve Jones, vice president of Carolinas HealthCare’s urgent care division. “Someone who’s sick at work doesn’t need to take time off to sit in an urgent care waiting room for hours. We’re cutting down on inefficient uses of time and accommodating everyone’s busy schedules, while creating a more seamless experience for our urgent care patients.”

Jeff Nystrom, a Matthews chemistry teacher, used the service in May, when his hand swelled up after it was punctured by a nail when he was moving a load of lumber. He and his wife were eating lunch in a restaurant on Mother’s Day when she noticed what appeared to be an infection in his finger.

She pulled up the Carolinas HealthCare app to reserve a space at an urgent care center. “I had a couple choices, and I picked one that was very soon,” Nystrom said. A doctor saw him quickly, and the whole process took only about two hours. “I was expecting to spend all afternoon,” he said.

Dr. Alfred Kendrick, medical director for the Carolinas HealthCare division of urgent care, said he’s glad to help patients have more control over when they are seen. “We’re meeting people where they are.”