Do most urgent care clinics open on Christmas Day? Watch this DocuTAP DataBrief to find out.
With the holidays fast approaching, many urgent care operators are making decisions about when to be open and when to give their staff some much deserved time off.
Before you make a decision, ask yourself, “What are my patients’ expectations?”
Patient expectations drive the urgent care business, and to become the go-to clinic in your community and keep the market share you’ve worked hard to build, every decision you make should start with setting—and meeting—your patients’ expectations. This includes setting your holiday hours.
As an alternative to the emergency department of your local hospital, you’ve carved out a niche for yourself to be there for care when patients need it. Along the way, you’ve set standard hours of operation that allow you to keep that promise without negative effects on your bottom line. Can you extend those hours as a convenience to patients and as a part of your marketing strategy with the understanding that it’s possible you won’t have enough patients to realize a profit?
Being open on the holidays is really about meeting patient expectations in the short term, and building your business in the long term. The best decision will vary by market and patient base. The following are a few things to think about before you make your choice.
- Are you in a competitive market where you need an edge for attracting and keeping new patients?
- Are you located in a residential neighborhood with lots of families (and a higher risk of holiday accidents and injuries)?
- Does your community attract tourists that may get sick and need urgent care to recover during their out-of-town stay?
- Do you have a thriving OccMed business and do employers who are open on the holiday rely on you to be open?
- Do you have a diverse patient mix including people that don’t celebrate traditional American holidays? Will they expect you to be open?
- How will staying open affect your staff? Do you have employees who don’t mind working the holiday?
- Can you operate with a skeleton crew?
- If you choose to be open, will you be the only place available for healthcare?
- Will your community expect you to be closed on the holiday?
- Is there a way to offer curtailed hours and still meet the needs of your patients?
- Does being open on holidays support your long-term marketing strategy?
Every urgent care is different, with one exception. Your business is built on convenient access to healthcare when a primary care physician isn’t available, and emergency room care isn’t necessary. Your challenge is to weigh the benefits against the negative consequences and make a decision that works for you.
No matter what you decide, be sure you communicate holiday hours to current patients and the community. If you will be open, announce it loud and clear through social media, marketing outreach, and even traditional ads in local publications. Get all the leverage you can to build customer loyalty and let patients know you’re there for them when they need you—even on holidays.
For more urgent care-specific data, subscribe to the Urgent Care Quarterly.