We see you, urgent care. In the last two years, you’ve had to push yourselves beyond your limits and seek new solutions to an incredibly stressful reality. These solutions have meant stepping up for your communities and redefining internal roles and operations. Even small changes made huge impacts for the industry.
While you all deserve to be rewarded, Experity wanted to provide you the opportunity to recognize your personal urgent care heroes. So we created the Limelight Awards.
These peer-nominated industry awards honor forward-thinking urgent care professionals whose leadership, operational, or community contributions made a significant difference. Those nominations drove the decision-making when it came time to award the winners.
Here we are proud to introduce the winner for the Showstopper Award, which honors an urgent care visionary who positively impacted the community and industry.
Photo: Todd Martin, Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer at Emergency One Urgent Care
Todd’s nomination submission read “Todd has developed Emergency One into one of the most trusted and respected healthcare organizations in the Hudson Valley for nearly 25 years. His dedication to remaining open throughout and providing services that other healthcare organizations removed or limited, displays his desire to make Emergency One the best patient experience available in the region. His pride in what we do on a daily basis, from our front desk staff to our providers, shows that Todd truly believes that the quality of caring for our patients, clients, employees, community and all that we serve and who serves us, is just as important as the quality of care.”
We took the time to ask more from Todd on his success and view of the urgent care industry. Enjoy our conversation below.
“These improvements in our service delivery model were driven by new technology and products designed to streamline operational efficiencies, improve access for patients, and improve the engagement between our centers and the patients that we serve.”
The urgent care industry has evolved greatly over the past decade due in part to the introduction of the Affordable Care Act in 2010. We saw an influx of newly insured patients into a health care system with limited access to primary care and emergency care services. This created a great opportunity for Emergency One to meet this new demand. Health care insurance companies began to expand their urgent care network which resulted in an explosion of new centers in our area.
With this new competition came the need for Emergency One to raise the bar and enhance the services for our patients. These improvements in our service delivery model were driven by new technology and products designed to streamline operational efficiencies, improve access for patients, and improve the engagement between our centers and the patients that we serve. This started with the implementation of our electronic medical records system. Looking back, it’s hard to believe that we were working off paper charts in 2009/10.
Our new EMR (Practice Velocity/VelociDoc) assisted us in standardizing our care and improving efficiencies by integrating chief complaint driver medical documentation templates, electronic prescription writing, lab ordering, structured complaint-based patient education, and discharge instructions — and allowed for easy sharing of patient information with the local primary care physicians. Ultimately this new EMR allowed our providers to spend more of the visit time with the patient. Since then, we have continued to find ways to improve the patient experience with the implementation of patient queuing systems, eRegistration, patient portals, and engagement technology to survey and connect real time feedback to improve our patient care delivery systems. All these enhancements proved critical with the onset of the pandemic in 2020.
“When something became burdensome for the patient, we would look for ways to change that process because in the end, the goal was to create the best patient experience.”
Emergency One went through many challenges during the pandemic. Our offices saw significant surges in patient volumes, new governmental and insurance compliance requirements, new testing technologies, as well as challenges in managing our supply chain. Our response included the implementation of new technology to enhance access and improve the delivery of care. These included telemedicine and rolling out eRegistration to decompress our waiting rooms and provide safe and secure access to our services. We added queuing systems to stabilize and manage patient flow. We implemented a patient portal so our patients could receive real-time results without inundating staff and our offices with phone calls. Each of these programs were designed to allow our staff to accommodate higher volumes by leveraging technology to reduce the burden on staff as they move our patients through urgent care process.
As we implemented each item, we repeatedly questioned, “How does this look and feel for the patient?” Some things worked, some didn’t, and we didn’t hesitate to try different approaches. When something became burdensome for the patient, we would look for ways to change that process because in the end, the goal was to create the best patient experience.
Perhaps the biggest challenge of 2020-2021 was managing the staff stressors and the work environment. We continually looked for ways to create a better and healthier work environment. This included everything from structural changes to the waiting rooms and front desk to ensuring ample supplies of PPE and weekly surveillance testing to keep our employees safe & healthy. Our strategy was designed to help make our employees feel safe and supported in our work environment.
Beyond the physical changes, we worked with our leadership team to establish a continual assessment of employee wellness throughout the year. Flexibility with schedules and staffing helped to create a positive work environment. In addition, we constantly monitored the compensation trends in the region to continually bring our employees in line with the changes occurring due to employment issues by adapting wages and offering additional bonuses to reward our employees for their performance while managing the surge in volumes throughout the year.
“Emergency One worked closely with our local Dept of Health offices, our employer/client partners, and our insurance payers to coordinate access to care and testing in all our communities.”
From the very beginning of the pandemic, Emergency One worked closely with our local Dept of Health offices, our employer/client partners, and our insurance payers to coordinate access to care and testing in all our communities:
“We hope to see increased access to qualified professionals in key positions where we have local shortages, including physicians, x-ray technicians, and nursing staff.”
We hope to see a decline in COVID-19 infection rates in our area and a normalization of patient volume variability. We hope to see increased access to qualified professionals in key positions where we have local shortages, including physicians, x-ray technicians, and nursing staff. We plan to focus on connecting with and marketing to the new patients that found our urgent care center during the pandemic — to educate them on the scope and quality of services available and encourage them to return when they or their families need immediate care.
Make sure you focus first on taking care of your employees, maintaining a safe and supportive environment that encourages professional growth, teamwork, and collaboration. Keep your patients at the center of your service and decision-making. Build relationships with fellow colleagues in the urgent care industry, and share your successes and challenges. Stay flexible and open to innovative ways to improve patient care. Seek ways to build relationships in your community and collaborate with your local primary care providers, the hospitals, specialists, and governmental agencies to improve the health and access to care for the patients that you serve.
Want to learn about our other winners and finalists? Read Urgent Care Heroes: The Stories Behind the Limelight Award Finalists