Whether visit volume is high or low, getting more patients through the door is a priority. Seeing just one more patient a day brings in 30 more patients a month. That means if you make $120/visit, a single clinic can earn an extra $3,600 monthly. If you have five clinics, you’re looking at adding over $200,000 a year.
Increasing patient volume is two separate challenges, though — fitting more people in when it’s busy, and attracting more people when it isn’t. We’re going to give you some ideas to help with both. Let’s begin with the first: getting more patients through the door by improving your patient flow.
In urgent care, patient flow describes the patient’s movement through the clinic from the first touchpoint through the last. This includes any resources, internal systems, and treatment involved throughout the entire patient journey.
To increase patient flow in the clinic, you want to focus on efficiency and consistency. If you’re not sure where to start, answer these questions:
From here, you’re looking at two general buckets of ideas that can help you improve flow: automated tools and refining procedures.
For urgent care, a patient flow management system is a combination of patient engagement tools and an integrated EMR/PM built for urgent care efficiency. The former helps you slash the time it takes to get a patient seen, eliminate duplicative entry, and submit more accurate claims.
The latter reduces manual efforts for providers, letting them spend less time documenting so they can see patients more quickly. Here are some of the features for each that help you see more patients.
EMR/PM designed specifically for urgent care
If you don’t currently use a solution that offers these features, they are very easy ways to reduce the amount of work for staff and accelerate throughput. While they are an investment, once implemented, the benefits are immediate.
Beyond your automated systems, you can help staff improve patient flow with other resources that make them more efficient:
Now that you know how to handle high patient volume, you want to maintain steady revenue by keeping that volume from dipping too low in off seasons. To do that, you want to not only attract more new patients to your clinic, but also get patients you’ve seen to come back. Some of the best approaches here lie in smart marketing, reputation management, and expanding your services.
You’ve probably covered your marketing basics, so now it’s time to think a bit more creatively about how to get visibility and be persuasive. See if anything here is a new idea for you.
Here are a few ways you can tap into digital and online resources to capture attention.
Get new patients in the door with irresistible special offers — Run a huge promotion that serves your community at a price they can’t refuse. Advertise it on social media and/or Google, and build an email campaign for existing patients. (For example, Vital Urgent Care in Newport Beach, California ran a promotion in paid ads offering TB tests for $5 with a successful outcome.)
Other email campaigns — You probably got a lot of new patients through COVID-19 testing and vaccinating. Email them about other services you provide. Use their demographic information to segment your audience and tell them about the specific services that may be of interest to them. Remember, about a third of patients don’t have primary care providers, especially younger patients. How can you fill that gap?
Quality online content — Rank higher in online searches and build trust through blogs that help answer common questions pertaining to services. For example, explain the signs, symptoms, and treatment of pink eye. Just remember to write at about a ninth-grade level so your average reader can understand. And don’t sell, inform.
Even in a digital world, it’s valuable to stand out in your community by doing some outreach. A few ways to do that:
Get more marketing ideas in our Urgent Care Marketing 101 guide.
When you succeed at acquiring new patients, you don’t just want them to want to come back. You want them to tell the community that they should see you, too. And the way they do that is through online reviews.
We talk a lot about how to get online reviews in resources like How to Retain Patients in a New Era of Urgent Care. But a tip we’ve yet to share is how to incentivize staff to help get better reviews.
If you’re prompting patients to leave reviews, you want that feedback to be as positive as possible. Your staff is responsible for a large part of the overall patient experience. iCare Urgent Care Centers offer staff a quarterly bonus when their clinic’s Google rating is 4.7 or higher. With money on the line (and feeling appreciated,) staff go the extra mile to ensure they deliver the best patient experience they can.
Expansion is another topic we frequently discuss (like in this blog,) so we want to help you generate new ideas. OccMed is already widely adapted because it’s an easy way to expand. But if you’re only offering some OccMed services, make sure you aren’t missing any opportunities specific to your community. Regardless, remember we said that a lot of younger patients don’t have primary care physicians. Think about what you could offer to appeal to them.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself as you brainstorm new ways to expand.
As you start to answer these, consider a couple of tips to help you dive in more deeply.
Overall, your expansion will be most successful when you consider the needs of your community and how you differ from your competitors.
You can also download our free eBook, How to Increase Patient Volume: Managing the Highs and Lows, for more in-depth ideas.