When it comes to getting expert advice on launching an urgent care, many owners and operators turn to Patrice Pash, Director of Consulting Services at DocuTAP. With more than 20 years of consulting experience under her belt, she’s helped more than 150 clinics get off the ground successfully. The following are her answers to five questions about the relationship between clinics, healthcare technology, and patient engagement.
Q: Are urgent care clinics excited about Clockwise.MD and the opportunities it offers?
A: Urgent cares are genuinely excited about Clockwise. They’re techy and they want to be at the forefront of the industry. This software is what’s happening right now. But not every startup needs to implement every component right away or at all—based on their specific needs, their markets, and their customers. They should choose what makes sense for them or implement it one piece at a time.
Q: Does it make sense for startups to implement Clockwise before they open their doors?
A: Every situation is different. Although a clinic may not have enough patients to actually need online scheduling or queue management, it could change fast. One of the biggest benefits of launching your clinic with the software in place is that it allows you to set up processes that include these tools from the very beginning—when there is time for training and learning and patient visit volume is manageable. And your staff won’t have to shift gears later, disrupting the flow of the clinic processes. Some clinics might want to start using only specific pieces of the software, and over time, add more pieces.
Q: What should clinics evaluate when considering patient engagement software?
A: Competition and location are two things you need to consider when making your decision. If your clinic is in a smaller community or rural location, patient engagement may not be nearly as important as it is in an urban environment where everything is available on demand. In these areas, you may feel compelled to “keep up with the Joneses” because all the other nearby clinics offer online scheduling. If you do decide to offer it based on your competition, you have to be as good or better—so be sure your staff is prepared and proficient.
Q: What is the biggest technology challenge for startups?
A: There are really two main challenges I hear from startups. Fear and frustration. On one hand, they don’t know what technology to implement and they’re worried if they don’t keep up, they won’t be competitive. And they’re frustrated. They’re bombarded with so much information about what they should and shouldn’t do that they get confused. They’re not sure what technology to use and services to offer, how to use it, or if it will help them be successful. They want to have a competitive edge—bigger, better, and faster, but they don’t know what that looks like.
Q: On the broader question of engaging patients. Do you have any advice?
A: Patient engagement doesn’t begin and end with tech. It starts in communities. It’s about getting to know the people and what they value. It’s about caring about what they care about. The best urgent cares are engaging one-on-one with patients and focusing on doctor/patient relationships more than delivering healthcare like it’s fast food. This is where engagement starts, and it fuels social engagement. It makes people want to connect with them.