The growth in the urgent care industry is a direct reflection of the times.
Where people once valued spending time talking directly to their family doctor about their conditions and care, the next-gen patient now expects convenience. They want to get in and out of the office—with a diagnosis and the medication they need—when and where it fits into their schedules.
If you’re thinking about opening an urgent care, you will be entering a fiercely competitive market that lives and dies by patient volume coupled with the delivery of thorough, accessible, and convenient on-demand medical care. How can you possibly compete?
The key is simplicity. Not only for patients, but for providers, admins, and your entire support staff.
As you begin planning your urgent care clinic, do it with simplicity in mind.
Simple to find
Once you’ve chosen the right geographical location for your new urgent care, start thinking of location in a very practical way. You can’t attract new patients if they can’t find you. Choose a clinic location that is visible to passing traffic with close-by parking and signage that is easy to spot. And make it easy for patients to find information about you online with a user-friendly website. Finally, stay immediately connected with interactive social media like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Simple to pay
Start contracting and credentialing with insurance companies long before you open your clinic doors. For many people, whether or not you accept their insurance can be a deal-breaker when choosing an urgent care. And consider offering simple payment options—low-cost alternatives to high-deductible plans.
Simple service offerings
When making decisions about initial service lines, don’t try to be all things to all people. Focus on providing exceptional urgent care, and limit specialties to what the market demands. In a community composed primarily of young families, consider pediatrics, or when you’re in a larger retirement community of empty nesters, choose to provide special services that aging baby boomers demand. Once you have the basics down, you can expand services later.
Be realistic when hiring staff. Think lean and nimble. When possible, start searching for your team early and offer attractive benefits. Look for front office staff with experience in healthcare, preferably in a clinic, ER, or urgent care capacity. While some training will be required, choosing an energetic staff with some experience will shorten the learning curve. In addition, look for team members who you can cross-train to handle various responsibilities to ensure you can serve patients well with a smaller staff. And finally, make your expectations clear and simple for everyone to understand.
Make purchasing decisions based on the clinic’s actual needs. From interior design to office equipment, start simple. As time goes on, you’ll learn what’s working, and what’s not. At that point you can buy what you need and allocate a budget for larger purchases.
An EMR developed specifically for urgent care removes much of the bloat of other systems and can help your staff and providers check patients in and out more efficiently, improve provider documentation, ensure accurate coding, and better manage revenue cycles.
Before you open your urgent care, set simple, reasonable short and long-term goals. Share your goals with your staff and regularly evaluate progress. Everyone working toward the same outcomes increases your likelihood of success, and enables you to adjust when necessary.
After you open your doors, the needs of your patients and your urgent care clinic may change. Sometimes complications arise and it’s necessary to change course. When this happens, treat your clinic with the same simple steps you use to treat a patient. Diagnose the cause of the problem, determine the treatment, apply the treatment, and follow up to be sure you’re back on course.
These simple steps will help you and your urgent care be successful at startup and for years to come.
In the coming weeks, we'll be featuring more posts about starting up your urgent care. Stay tuned.