As the lines of primary care and urgent care blur, many urgent care clinics are adding primary care services to their patient offerings. Increasingly, urgent cares are no longer a one-stop-shop for only immediate care. Scheduled appointments for preventative or follow-up care are becoming common, as patients drive the shift for even more on-demand care.
Let’s discuss some reasons you may want to add primary care to your urgent care clinics:
With primary care, your urgent care can grow a regular, returning base of patients. You can focus on marketing to those in your community who need a primary care provider—but don’t have a consistent physician. With the shortage of PCPs continuing, these patients will broaden the scope of those you serve, and offer repeat visits, which enables your clinic to rely less on one type of visit revenue.
With growing your patient base to include repeats, your clinic can be more financially stable. Consistent visits with scheduled appointments for family care or primary care options gives you a better average of number of visits, and more predictability for revenue intake. Reimbursements rates for primary care (from insurance companies) can be higher, depending on quantity of visit types you see and your contracts.
Expanding services will brand your clinic to patients as a more diverse healthcare option. If they can get flu shots and screenings with you—along with stop by when they have an immediate issue, they’ll be more likely to see you as a primary provider. Immediate or quick appointments will be more appealing (especially for chronic illness needs)—and treatments will be the same quality as at a primary care clinic.
Rather than compete, urgent cares can set up a friendly alignment of treatment with other local healthcare options. PCPs can refer overflow and after-hours patients to your urgent care, and those with more specific needs can be referred back to another PCP. Mutual referrals can grow both patient bases. PCPs and hospitals are also moving toward adding their own urgent cares—so partnerships between entities are desirable from both angles.
If your urgent care is looking to add primary care to your services, you’ll need to ensure you have an EMR and PM that can handle these scheduled patient visit types. You’ll also have to consider contracting and credentialing changes needed for billing—along with deciding how to staff and schedule out regular appointments, while still covering walk-in patients.