Skip to Main Content

A year of high-intensity pandemic response and constantly shifting gears to meet patient needs has changed the way clinics look at what’s next for their business. Volume surged and fell, patients expected more, and urgent care providers and staff learned that they could pivot from normal operations and adapt.

Now that COVID-19 testing and vaccination needs have leveled out, patient volume is starting to return to normal levels. You can’t predict the future, but you can adapt to protect your business from fluctuating revenue and unpredictable shifts in patient demand. You can do this by adding new revenue streams that provide a steady source of new patients and increase the likelihood that your COVID-19 patients return for other on-demand services.

Many urgent care clinics are doing this by adding one or more business lines. Here are three ways you can grow your urgent care.

1. Grow with Occupational Medicine (OccMed)

OccMed is a good fit for urgent care. Extended hours, quick door-to-door time, and easy accessibility are keys to a successful OccMed practice — and those are things urgent cares already offer. OccMed covers services that employers need for hiring and compliance — like drug screening, physicals, and workers compensation injury care. It can also include onsite COVID-19 testing and vaccinations. More employers are considering their best go-forward plan for bringing employees back into the office increasing the need for OccMed services both in clinic and on-site. No matter where your practice is located, you can find an industry that needs these services:

  • Nursing homes and other medical facilities
  • Trucking/distribution/warehousing (DOT)
  • Govt accounts — police, fire, schools, bus drivers
  • Construction
  • Manufacturing
  • Food processing/packaging
  • Large offices

Benefits

OccMed equals flexibility. You can offer some services or all. You can provide them at your clinic, onsite, or even remotely. But what makes it so easy to add this to your docket is that there is very little overhead in doing so. With cross-training, you can use your current staff and facility, so your primary costs will revolve around marketing. But remember: your OccMed services are also a way to advertise your urgent care services. Give those employees a great experience, and they’ll remember you for non-work-related healthcare needs.

How to use it

There are some great tips on how to approach OccMed in our webinar 4 Emerging Trends for a New Era in Urgent Care. By getting involved in your community and investing time in outreach efforts, you can build a customer base.

As for the services, you can offer some services in person, and some via telehealth to broaden your reach even further.

Onsite services:

  • Examinations
    • DOT exams
    • OSHA clearance
    • Audiometric
    • Drug and alcohol testing
    • COVID-19 services
  • Assist with symptom-temperature tracking procedures and management/disposition for those with symptoms
  • Routine surveillance and PCR testing

Telemedicine services:

  • Respirator clearance
    • Review health/OccHealth history, status and/or change in current condition
    • Visual examination
    • Vitals
      • Bluetooth devices
      • Blood pressure taken onsite
      • Temperature
    • Record look-back: review examination and test on-file including spirometry, EKG, and other pertinent clinical info used for clearance in prior year(s)
  • Injury Management/Evaluations
    • Triage
    • Recommended care plans, restrictions, return-to-work
    • Refer if necessary

Is OccMed a fit for you? Read more about how to add it to your urgent care in this blog.

2. Grow with Telemedicine

OccMed isn’t the only bucket of services you can offer via telehealth.  While telemedicine has been around for a while, COVID-19 catapulted telemedicine use to new heights and firmly solidified its place in the care continuum. The new patients who’ve tried telemedicine will likely consider the option in the future. Adopting these services now can put you ahead of the curve later.

Benefits

Urgent care and telemedicine share many of the same goals — saving patients’ time, increasing efficiency, increasing overall savings to the healthcare system, and most importantly, providing high-quality medical care to patients on-demand. All around, this technology benefits patients, providers, and healthcare as a whole.

Patients:

Telemedicine provides convenience and removes the aggravation of traveling to the clinic, which takes time away from work and family. Remote visits also eliminate exposure to other sick people, which is especially appealing when a person is not feeling well in the first place.

Furthermore, telemedicine makes healthcare accessible where it is usually limited, like in rural or underserved areas. This technology not only allows patients to see a trusted physician, but also can be used to expand their care team to include specialists when needed.

Providers:

Video appointments can reduce the length of patient encounters — which means doctors can see more patients, thereby boosting revenue. For larger urgent care operators with multiple clinics, telemedicine is an opportunity to balance visit volume across providers and clinics. If one clinic is booked solid, a patient can have the option to see a provider at a different clinic remotely.  Other benefits include reducing no shows and cancellations, engaging patients in their own healthcare, and building loyalty.

The healthcare system:

With this new technology, wait-time can be reduced for in-person visits; people with non-urgent conditions will be less likely to seek care in emergency rooms; and patients can manage chronic conditions and post-treatment care in ways that better fit into their everyday lives. All of this makes the delivery of healthcare more efficient and effective.

How to use it

So, if you adopt a model where you can provide services to people remotely, what exactly can you treat? First of all, breakthroughs have been made using telemedicine in multiple areas, including:

  • Radiology
  • Psychiatry
  • Dermatology
  • Ophthalmology
  • Phrenology
  • Obstetrics
  • Oncology
  • Pathology
  • Rehabilitation
  • Primary care follow-up visits

You can see that your opportunities are vast and growing. However, the most common ailments that people use telemedicine for fit the urgent care model and include:

  • Allergies
  • Arthritic pain
  • Asthma
  • Bronchitis
  • Colds and flu
  • Diarrhea
  • Infections
  • Insect bites
  • Pharyngitis
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Rashes
  • Respiratory infections
  • Sinusitis
  • Skin inflammations
  • Cellulitis
  • Sore throats
  • Sprains and strains
  • Bladder infections
  • UTIs
  • Sports injuries
  • Vomiting

Read more about incorporating telemedicine in this free eBook: 5 Critical Steps to Take Before Incorporating Telemedicine into Your Urgent Care >>

3. Grow with primary care

An increasing number of urgent cares are no longer just a one-stop-shop for episodic care. On average, a third of urgent care patients don’t have a primary care provider. And in an on-demand world, it makes sense for urgent cares to transform into hybrid clinics that offer primary care services, too.

Benefits

Of the three opportunities discussed in this article, a hybrid clinic takes the most effort. There is a lot to consider before you make such a change. But it might be well worth it. Here are three reasons why:

Grow your patient base naturally

It’s very common for undiagnosed underlying concerns to be apparent during episodic care – like diabetes or hypertension. For these patients, especially those without a PCP, it is very organic to refer to primary care services in the same clinic. Urgent care providers can support total wellness, and patients get to keep the convenience and familiarity of the clinic.

Consistent visits (and reimbursements)

Consistent visits through scheduled appointments increases your average of number of visits — and improves predictability for revenue. Reimbursements rates from insurance companies can be higher for primary care depending on the quantity of visit types you see, and your contracts. There are contractual considerations for providing primary care services in an urgent care setting. Be sure to review contractual obligations when considering adding primary care services.

A more holistic clinic

As a hybrid clinic, you will be a more diverse healthcare option. If patients can get flu shots and screenings with you — and stop in for immediate care — they’ll be more likely to consider you as a primary provider. Your clinic can deliver more for patients and add to your bottom line.

How to use it

Urgent care clinics have many of the tools they need to deliver primary care services. One of the biggest gaps for most is software to accommodate this new category of patients and the workflows associated with them. And switching from one workflow for urgent care to another for primary care slows down processes. To remain efficient, you need a solution that lets you document urgent care and primary care visits side-by-side within a single system.

Because primary care needs differ from urgent care, your software should let you:

  • Access high-level overviews of patients’ visit histories, and active problem summaries for patients with chronic conditions
  • Easily review active problem summaries and document chronic problems without leaving the patient’s chart.
  • View past labs and track graph analytes
  • Track and graph previous height and weight values and growth charts
  • Easily accomplish scheduling and referrals

Having the right information at your fingertips removes the common roadblocks that keep clinics from seeing primary care patients quickly and efficiently. Read more about adding primary care in the blog Delivering Primary Care in an Urgent care Clinic.

How to thrive in a new era of urgent care

This article gives you food for thought, but if you want to diver deeper into emerging trends and implementing new lines of revenue, we’ve got you covered. We’re partnering with experts who have been in the trenches. Who have experimented with new ideas. Who have learned how to thrive in this new era of urgent care. As we gather their knowledge, we’re sharing it with you — right here.

Check out the New Era Info Hub and subscribe so you always know when new content has been added.

See All New Era Resources

Sign Up for the Urgent Care Minute

Join over 20,000 healthcare professionals who receive our monthly newsletter.