Because visit volume is one of the most important performance metrics in urgent care, we’ve been tracking this key metric alongside the fluid COVID-19 epidemic.
Now that our data indicates that patients are returning to urgent care clinics and visit volume has stabilized, we will not be updating this post weekly with new data. This is a welcome rebound in visit volume.
To sum up the timeline and trends, while March started strong, with visit volume holding steady despite the slowing of flu season, clinics coast to coast began to see a dramatic drop in visits at mid-March. This drop coincides with the President’s declaration of a national emergency on March 13. During the second two weeks of March average visit volume dropped 46 percent. Urgent care clinics saw a low of 88 average visits per week in mid-April. We began to see a positive turnaround in May, which has continued through June and July for a significant rebound.
When we compare the seven-day average of visits per clinic per day for the week of April 6-12 to the same metric for the week of July 26 – August 1, we see a 158 percent increase in visit volume.
It’s interesting to note that many clinics were likely still seeing patients for flu visits right before the pandemic. With seasonal flu visits uncommon for this time of year, it’s safe to say that we are surpassing our three-year historical visit volumes. Technically, the industry has “recovered” based on average visit volume data – but the numbers aren’t steady across the board and the situation is still dynamic.
With many clinics closed, and other clinics experiencing lower volume, this is uncharted territory. Some clinics are seeing double or triple visits because they adopted COVID-19 testing early. More clinics are ramping up to serve testing needs of patients in communities nationwide.
Weekly visit volume decreased from 231 two weeks ago to 227 last week—an decrease of about 1.73 percent.
We believe the lack of testing kits and supplies combined with the fear of exposure to the virus kept patients away from clinics, lowering visit volume at a time when most of us would expect a flood of new patients. Stay home instructions from state and local governments are keeping people home.
We also believe that clinics have an opportunity to fill the gaps in traditional care. While COVID-19 patients are best treated in hospital emergency rooms, urgent care can be the preferred choice for non-emergent illnesses and injuries.
With marketing efforts that remind patients you are still open, committed to their safety, and ready to treat them for non-coronavirus conditions, visit volume can rebound. Be sure your patients know that ignoring their symptoms and injuries can cause complications and more serious illness.
As testing supplies become more readily available, urgent care clinics can become the primary testing sites for COVID-19 related symptoms. The situation continues to evolve overall, and by communities, which will determine the best next steps for individual clinics.
We’ve compiled a social media kit, including plug-and-play posts and tips, that can help you communicate with patients locally, and support your community’s health. It’s free to download and easy to implement.
At Experity, we will continue to support your success with the resources you need in these uncertain times. We will update this blog every week to keep you informed with important information that can help you weather the pandemic. We will also be updating our homepage with a link to this page for easy updates.