Urgent Care Centers: Make Yours Stand Out
The number of urgent care centers in the U.S. continues to rise and with good reason: they offer convenience, affordability and promise lower wait times than traditional emergency rooms.
Benefits of urgent care centers include operational hours outside normal doctors’ offices and walk-in appointments, and an urgent care visit is significantly more affordable with an average cost of $165-$190 per visit vs. more than $1,250 when visiting an emergency room.
As more consumers are choosing urgent care centers to receive care over traditional doctors’ offices and emergency rooms, standing out among your competitors is paramount. There are a number of ways an urgent care can differentiate themselves from the rest. In order to do so, you must ask yourself questions such as: Who is your target demographic? How does your cost structure set you apart from your competition?
One additional way to stand out is by joining My One Medical Source’s MAP: Medical Access Point™ network. As part of the network, you can offer benefits that position you above other urgent care centers, including the ability to earn revenue on existing labor, promote other services, and expand current testing capabilities.
Here are some further ways to stand out:
Be Upfront about Rates, Staffing Model
Urgent care centers don’t all look the same. Some are free-standing, some are tucked away in strip malls, others are attached to local pharmacies, and some are even attached to local hospitals. Because of the latter, patrons may be wary of emergency rooms in disguise.
Most urgent care centers should only charge copays (if the patient is insured). As noted above, the average urgent care visit is $165-$190. If the cost of care will exceed that, ensure patients are aware of any excess costs.
Be Clear About Your Staffing Model
When considering the cost of service, be upfront about your staffing model. Not all urgent care centers are staffed the same. Because of the overlap with emergency and family medicine, your urgent care should typically staff at least one physician or specialist to see patients any time the center is open. Most urgent cares will follow the staffing models outlined below, as explained by Henry Schein Medical:
- Physician-Only: The most expensive model that uses no mid-level practitioners
- Mixed Model: A mix of physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners for centers with an increase in patient volume
- Mid-Level Model: Centers staffed entirely by mid-level staff. This option is suitable but may not be equipped to handle complex patient needs
If your urgent care employs a physician-only model, be transparent about the cost of service and why. If the injury or illness is complex and will be costly as is, would the patient be better served at an emergency room? Honesty will instill trust in your care and patients will more than likely return and recommend your service. Wherever possible, online and on-site, list your staff physicians and specialists, so patients feel confident in the care they’ll be receiving.
Make It a Seamless Experience
Another common but often unseen benefit of urgent care is the seamless connection to patients’ health care records and their primary care physicians. Ensure your patients know that you’re treating them on their entire medical journey, not just their urgent illness or injury. List known allergies, ailments, etc., prior to administering care.
The benefit of urgent care has always been convenience. Don’t be resistant to technology and consider things such as:
- Can your urgent care offer online appointments?
- Are you set-up for electronic payment?
- Do you offer telehealth?
Technology can help your urgent care stand out, especially in 2021, when most patients are looking to avoid person-to-person contact wherever possible.
Care That’s Here to Stay
In a world rocked by a pandemic, urgent care centers offer quick and affordable access to something we’ve all learned to value even more over the last 18 months: wellness. More care centers will continue to pop up in strip malls and pharmacies. As of November 2019, there were 9,616 urgent care centers in the U.S., up nearly 10 percent from 2018.
What will that number look like in 2021? One thing is certain: affordable, convenient and fast health care isn’t too good to be true and isn’t going away anytime soon.