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Episode 4:
Know Your Consumer

On this edition of Just Checking In, industry experts Dr. David Stern and Alan Ayers discuss the benefits of knowing urgent care consumer habits and targeting potential patients.

Just Checking In - Episode 4 - Know Your Consumer

Dr Stern: Hello and welcome to Just Checking In, a video blog discussion of anything and everything urgent care.  I am Dave Stern and this is my colleague Alan Ayers. Now and then we will be checking in with you discussing all sorts of items related to urgent care from marketing, to billing, to start up. And we will be talking about anything you are interested in as well.  So send in your questions we will be happy to discuss them here on Just Checking In.  So Alan you have something up for us this morning.

Alan: Yes, definitely!  When we talk about marketing it has been said that marketing starts with the mind of the consumer, and then works backwards though a supply chain to create a product or service that that consumer will ultimately need, want, desire to spend their money on.  And what is interesting is…

Dr. Stern: So help me out with that.  So marketing starts with the customer. I got that.  It flows back through the supply chain.  In other ways the supply chain needs to anticipate what the consumer wants and has been marketed and needs to provide it to the consumer in place where they can see it.

Alan: right, exactly. Yep.

Dr Stern: OK, got it.

Alan: So when designing a product or service ultimately your focus is meeting the consumers wants, needs, or desires.  So what is interesting is demographic research can provide a lot of insight into what these consumers needs, wants, desires are. Well you know I found out since I started, you know, since I learned about marketing and demographics.

Dr. Stern: You guys have no idea what he is coming up with next. I am looking down here… I have no idea where he is going… Go ahead!


Alan: OK, yeah. So whenever I made a consumer decision and I thought I was unique. When I later saw demographic research it showed that I was one of millions that kinda met a certain profile and made certain decisions. So I thought this was interesting. I drive a Subaru. I’m a big fan of Subaru. I am a member of Costco. I’m a big Fan of Costco. While I was recently in Costco, and I own a house so I have a yard that as soon as the grass starts growing I will need to cut. So all of these demographic factors…

Dr.Stern: What you guys don’t realize…he just bought a house… There is no grass planted yet.  Right?

Alan: Exactly. Yeah.

DS: So, you got another summer to go. (Laugh) HAHAHA

Alan: Right. (Laugh) Hahaha, exactly… So, all these demographics factors really describe who I am as a person.  Well, I found it really interesting  I was recently in Costco and saw they had a Subaru lawn mower. And realizing my brand of infinity, my need for a lawn mower, my infinity for Costco, I thought “WOW, this product was put here specifically for me.” The fact of matter, I didn’t need a lawn mower I just got my lawn mower fixed. So I passed on the purchase, but it was really tempting. So the question is, how does urgent care or how do urgent care providers understand their consumers and how do they offer products and services that are going to meet the needs of those consumers.

Dr. Stern: It’s a great question.  Here a picture of that Subaru Lawn mower (DS holds up picture) and like I said I had no idea where Alan was going with that.  Subaru Lawn mower, now that’s interesting. I am not a big Subaru fan myself so it wouldn’t… it wouldn’t hit me the same way as it hit you. But you… you’ve owned a Subaru.. and you have an experience in Subaru that Subaru is an awesome car for you. It does exactly what you want it to do, it gets you from place to place in comfort, and it’s very reliable.  So you were assuming… “Hey! There is a lawn mower that I can trust.” And based on what you just told me, your other lawn mower had to be in the shop. So maybe Subaru made sense, to not have it being in the shop.  And you have a very strong… or not…  I shouldn’t say very strong.  You have an emotional infinity to anything Subaru. So urgent cares, for the most part, have not done a really good job of branding.  There is no national brand of urgent care. So if you open your urgent care in a start up from your current state, it’s not like the whole community says: “Hey, did you hear there is an Acme Urgent Care in town? Oh my goodness I’ve got to go.” So that sort of infinity has been hard to get because there aren’t enough urgent cares of a single brand out there. And also because I think that, in general, urgent care delivers pretty good service. I think that the branding of an urgent care is important and I think that the thing that differentiates an urgent care is not so much are there, is there a doctor there or is there a mid-level or PA or Nurse practitioner depending on your terminology you prefer.  I don’t think that’s the thing. And I am not even sure whether they are nice, because that is expected. Everybody is supposed to be nice.  I don’t think it whether or not there’s quality care, because people have a hard time judging quality care, number one, because medicine is actually rather difficult. It is if you are a doctor, unless you do this, you are used to a patient lecturing you on what they have, and how you should treat it. But the truth of the matter, they don’t really know, and sometime we even struggle with what’s the right thing to do; with all of our education.  So I don’t think it’s all of those things.  I think what is going to drive, the real separation, and the branding of the urgent care chains as we start to see urgent care chains start to have 100, 200, even potentially in the next few years 1,000 centers, and now you will start to have people say, “Oh there’s that urgent care, and this is how I feel about it.” Because there is a general feeling you must have about Subaru.

Alan: Right

Dr. Stern: So in my mind the feeling that folks generally have for an urgent care is that they took care of my problem and it was OK. What I think urgent cares need to be challenged to do, especially these large chains, is to produce a different experience.  Some people have tried to produce a different experience.  We have some friends who have things such as put a movie theatre in the waiting room. Truthfully, I don’t think people go to the urgent care to see a movie. It’s cool. It’s fun. It’s nice. It’s nice to have a children’s play area. That’s cool, fun, and nice, too.  But what do people want from urgent care?  They want to be in and out as quickly as possible. They expect quality care, they expect friendly services.  What they don’t expect from urgent care is a seamless experience where almost every part of the experience is focused on them. We jokingly say when you go to an urgent care that just open {patients will say} the providers will call me and say that the patients  just love our urgent care they tell me it like they are the only person in the clinic and indeed they are the only person in the clinic.  So no surprise they feel that way.  This is a little different. This is creating a waste-free visit.  Most of a patient’s visit in most urgent care involves a lot of waste. The main waste, if you are familiar with lean talk, is waiting.  They are just waiting for the nurse to come in, they are waiting the physician to come in, they are waiting for the procedure to start, they are waiting for the procedure to be finished, they are waiting to get their instruction. And that is actually the majority of the time that they are in the clinic. And it’s true in a lot of areas in life for instance, if you ever look at the coach of a 5-year-olds soccer team, what he is teaching those kids is not soccer. He is teaching them how to stand in line, 9 times out of ten.  And we are teaching patients in our urgent cares, to sit in line, to sit in the seat, and wait their turn. What they are looking for is a change. They are looking for none of that waste. Where they walk into the clinic, they say, “Oh we were expecting you,” and they got a lot of your information already. They know how much your co-pay is, and they can tell you right up front.  They scan your cards, they move you back in the room, they do their vital signs, the minute they walk out from the vital signs, all of a sudden in comes the doctor. The doctor is pleasant and clean and nice. All that was expected, but they weren’t expecting the doctor to come in right after the vital sign were done. The doctor does… the doctor or provider does their thing, and then, “Holy Cow” right after they are done you are ready to be discharged and you’re out the door. And that all can happen really in 20-25 minutes.  If that happen consistently in 20-25 minutes an urgent care is going to build the type of brand loyalty, even better maybe than you did for Subaru. I think that is the differentiator in the long term in the future.  That is all we have for today. Is that right, Alan?

Alan: Yes, thank you very much


Dr. Stern: For more information please visit our website:, subscribe to our YouTube channel, and also find us on Facebook,  LinkedIn, or Twitter.

As always this is Dave Stern, Alan Ayers, we are checking out. See you next time.

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