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In a market that is overly saturated with urgent care centers, it’s more important than ever to create a recognized brand for your own urgent care. This is your ticket to building a loyal patient base, getting word-of-mouth referrals, and establishing a reputation in your community.

Positive brand-building starts with your business culture. When you have a rotating schedule, especially between numerous clinics, you don’t have the same team working together every day. Defining a culture will not only help your staff provide a consistent brand experience, but also work together seamlessly.

In a recent Experity webinar, we heard expert tips from two urgent care CEOs who have seen phenomenal growth in their practices by differentiating their brands through team culture. Here is some advice they shared.

Establish a patient-focused culture

Peter Hotz, President & CEO of Vybe Urgent Care in Philadelphia said that what differentiates his practice from others is the patient experience. While other clinics focus on care, few also pay attention to service. That’s why Vybe’s culture is centered around the motto, “Feel better as soon as you walk in.”

Hotz explained that this let them think differently about the facility design, which played into the brand as a whole — “Vybe” playfully captures the overall feeling you get from start to finish. Which goes beyond the initial impression. “It can’t be ‘feel better as soon as you walk an and then feel lousy 90 minutes later because we made you wait, we screwed up your copayment, the clinician wasn’t empathetic, and we didn’t give you good discharge instructions.’”

Learn how Vybe had fun creating their brand. Watch to the webinar on-demand >>

Birken Olsen, CEO & co-founder of CommunityMed Urgent Care in Texas echoed Hotz’s advice. He points out that no one is forced to come into his urgent care; they aren’t a PCP on an insurance card. So they must deliver “a real boutique medicine customer experience where mom knows we heard what she was saying, we were able to address the issues that a patient’s having, and we carry that feeling through even with our follow-up to make sure that we are a trustworthy source that they’re comfortable coming back to, and we make sure they know that we appreciated them coming in.”

How to focus on the patient:

In creating your own patient-centered culture, try to understand the mindset of each patient that clicks on your website or walks through the door. Remember no one wants to come into an urgent care. Help your team understand how to solve patient problems in a human-centered way.

  • Always consider the patients’ perspective or impact on the patient experience when making business decisions
  • Unleash the innate desire of team members to better serve your patients by including them in problem solving
  • Lead by example, consistently demonstrating the cultural core values and behaviors
  • Create patient-centered goals for everyone to help providers and staff work together as one patient-focused team


Clarify expectations, celebrate the wins, build on the losses

To create a long-lasting culture — especially one that is focused on the patient — you must make sure that the staff is clear on expectations, feels safe to speak up, and is recognized for a job well done.

Ultimately, you want to set expectations that engage employees in the right things. If they are engaged in goals around the patient experience, they will live the culture you establish.

Your expectations should not only be how to treat patients, but also how to treat coworkers and what it means to be a good team player and employee. Additionally, you need to measure performance and provide feedback. When they’re doing a good job, tell them. When they struggle, help them win. And if the employee cannot meet expectations — when possible — consider a better-suited role before resorting to termination.

All of this supports a culture of celebrating wins. Not only do employees need to hear praise from leaders, they should also celebrate each other. Give staff the ability to recognize each other. Both Hotz and Olsen have reward programs in place for employees to recognize one another and win prizes or redeem points. Learn more about their reward programs >>

Another important expectation in a positive culture is giving grace. Humans will make mistakes. You and your staff should demonstrate grace when it happens. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should keep an employee in a role that is not a fit. But if employees know they can admit fault without enduring a harsh backlash, they’ll be more likely to own mistakes — which results in faster resolution and a better learning environment.

High-level tips to set expectations that influence a great culture:

  • Be consistent across all your urgent care centers — not only on rules and behaviors, but also on layout, equipment, and location of supplies
  • Provide a consistent feedback loop
  • Provide transparency and visibility to your teams
  • Ensure your team feels like a valued part of the business’ success and their voice is heard


Focus on continual improvement

If there’s one thing all urgent cares experienced in 2020, it’s change. A lot of decisions had to be made around the safest, most efficient way to serve patients — especially those that adopted COVID-19 testing. For Olsen, this was the perfect example of how to effectively approach continual improvement.

“For every change, we sat down and talked through it with everyone at each of the centers. Here’s what we’re thinking about doing. Our objective is to keep you and the patients safe, here’s what we’re thinking about. Shoot holes in this. Tell us why it will or won’t work.”

Birken added that COVID-19 changes taught them how to get buy-in from staff and work out the kinks. Not only was it important to be clear about why the change is being made, it is smart to implement the change slowly. For Birken, that meant one center at a time.

By piloting a change, the center was able to see what did and didn’t work so they could make improvements before introducing it to all centers. Additionally, once the change yielded benefits, the staff became advocates who reassured staff at other centers that the result is worth the pain of change.

By focusing on continual improvement, you will evolve with the industry and with patients so that you always meet new expectations and run as efficiently as possible.

Free download: read How to Adapt to Meet Patient Demands in the New Era of Urgent Care >>

High-level tips to drive a focus on continual improvement:

  • Clarify the objective – what is the ultimate goal, or what is the problem
  • Set realistic expectations
  • Measure performance on a consistent cadence
  • Provide a feedback loop; recognize the wins, improve on the losses
  • Provide safe space for team to voice opinions and ideas


Final thoughts

Differentiating your brand is greatly supported by building a culture of care at every touchpoint. And the culture that will set you apart is one that patients reflect on positively.

Establishing a consistent culture at your urgent care takes effort. A consistent employee experience supports a consistent patient experience. Invest in creating a consistent, scalable and measurable approach to building a positive culture at your urgent care. By standardizing things like policies, procedures, and behaviors, you’re providing the guardrails for your staff to become a team – in any environment the industry can throw at it.

Get all the best practices shared in the webinar Top Behaviors of Winning Urgent Care Teams along with tips on how to attract and retain top talent.

Watch On-demand Now


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