Rising rent and energy costs. Hiring new staff. Marketing costs. For urgent care owners and providers, the cost of doing business can really add up. How do you continue to be profitable in a very competitive market? Meeting your financial responsibilities, growth, and positive cash flow begins with a focus on revenue — specifically, increasing it. The following is our list of the top 7 ways you can increase urgent care revenue, even when business is ebbing instead of flowing.
Effective RCM is one of the keys to staying profitable, mostly because it’s an everyday challenge with many facets. The good news is that with training, technology, and oversight, you have control over your revenue cycle. Managing your revenue cycle begins at the front desk. Be sure you put the right person in this important and high-profile position, and then require training — not just on how to greet visitors — but how to check insurance coverage to make sure it’s active.
One solution is Real-Time Eligibility (RTE.) This lets you not only verify coverage, but determine patient responsibility from the outset, and ask for this percentage of the charge before the patient leaves the office. The more you collect at the time of the visit, the less time and energy will be required during the billing process.
But insurance is rarely cut and dry. It gets complicated, like when a mom has different insurance from her kids. You can safeguard your revenue further if you have credit card preauthorization capabilities. This lets you collect a card number that — while not kept on file — is simply billed the balance when an insurance claim processes. This saves your front desk some pain, your patient some time, and also saves you money on paper billing. But most of all, it ensures prompt payment.
Since labor is the highest cost in an urgent care, the number of patients per hour is a closely measured metric. The more patients you can treat in a day, the more money you make. The best way to speed throughput is with a workflow solution.
If you use an EMR/PM tool, you know how helpful it is, but the most effective way to optimize your workflow is with an EMR that’s designed specifically for urgent care.
The difference is that an urgent-care-specific tool works the way you do. For example, it already has the most common conditions you treat built into it. Features like Experity’s Chartlet provide one-click charting functionality, allowing providers to complete most charts in about a minute.
CRH Healthcare used an urgent-care-specific solution to speed up its processes and reported an average door-to-door time of 45 minutes. The more customized your tools, the better they support you.
For clinics that adopted COVID-19 testing, new patient volume exploded in 2020. But do those patients know what other services you offer? Was their only exposure to your clinic in a parking lot testing station? Are they afraid to go inside your clinic because they worry about the presence of contagions?
Every urgent care has a record of who they saw during COVID-19. This presents an incredible opportunity to leverage this list and get those new patients to come back.
As we discuss in this blog, email marketing is a powerful tool to stay connected with those new patients you acquired and welcome them back. Tell people about a new or existing service they may not know you provide. Remind them of annual physicals. Explain why it’s safe to come into your clinic. Communicate special offers. Show them a blog that can help them with self-care. Let them know all the ways you’re here for them.
If you don’t have a platform for email marketing, there are many to choose from. One that is pretty simple to use and reasonably priced is Constant Contact. It has an intuitive interface and straightforward reporting. And their customers find that support is quite responsive. This may be a good place to start if you’re new to email campaigns.
You can also do text message campaigns — which will work better or worse than email marketing based on the campaign and population. You probably don’t want to only do text messaging, but it can be worth folding into your strategy, especially as patients expect more information at their fingertips. Your options for this service may depend on which integrate with your email marketing platform.
Wage inflation and labor shortages have made staffing difficult for many urgent cares. But even if you have the right number of people on your payroll, you walk a fine line with scheduling. Inadequate staffing can be a nightmare for urgent cares, but overstaffing has a detrimental effect on your revenue. Your goal should be to staff to expected patient volume.
To be sure you have a just-right staff on duty, you’ll need to look at the data. First review your visit volume week-to-week comparing peak times versus slow times to find any patterns that might help you make coverage decisions. Next, take a step back and look at year-over-year volume to identify seasonal trends. Armed with the right data, you can staff to average or expected patient volume.
Remember, too, that even the best plans can be taken off course. Be sure to identify members of your staff who are more readily available in a pinch, and those who don’t mind going home when business is slow. Adding a few people with more flexibility to your staff gives you more wiggle room when your prediction turns out to be off.
Get more tips on staff efficiency in Causes & Solutions for Healthcare Staff Burnout in Urgent Care >>
Once your urgent care clinic is established and running smoothly, think about adding a service line or two. If you do your homework, this can deliver significant growth for your urgent care.
Before you decide on new service lines, you want to determine which are most appealing to the communities you serve. A lot of combined factors will tell this story, including your competition, surrounding businesses, patient demographics, and more. If you need help with this, Experity provides a comprehensive strategic approach to real estate with our consulting services.
Growth opportunities are not limited to primary care and OccMed. On-demand healthcare is ever-expanding. One service that’s in particularly high demand is behavioral health.
In fact, behavioral health is one of the more convenient services to add because it is a great fit for telehealth. You can provide an incredibly convenient service without taking up a treatment room, filling your waiting area, or exposing patients to other communicable diseases. And remote diagnosis is much more feasible for behavioral health concerns compared to other kinds of visits.
Some other lucrative services that are becoming more popular in urgent care include allergy testing, dermatology, and physical therapy.
As important as it is to persuade new patients to come back, you want an ongoing strategy to retain all patients. The difference is that with retention, you’re not just giving them a single reason to come back, like a promotion. Rather, you’re creating a consistent, positive experience for them so that when they or their loved ones need on-demand care, they remember you. The key to this is engagement.
When you engage with patients, you let them know they’re more than just another number — that you care about them and their health. If you want to facilitate engagement, online solutions like Experity Patient Engagement Software can be great tools.
For example, online scheduling makes appointment setting easy, flexible, and convenient for on-demand consumers. Once they find you online, they don’t have to pick up the phone during business hours; they can find and book an appointment that fits into their schedule. Text messaging gives you an opportunity to connect with them before the visit, to remind them of their appointment and let them know if there are any delays. This allows them to adjust their schedule when necessary and saves them from spending too much time in the waiting room or parking lot. And it lets them know you understand their time is valuable.
Soon after the appointment, send a simple survey to gauge their satisfaction. And when they indicate dissatisfaction, respond promptly with a call to find out their concerns. A post-visit text or email is not invasive, it tells them that you care about their experience, and can provide valuable information about how to improve your patient experience. All of these tools help to build relationships, increase loyalty, and increase your revenue over time.
You can read more about retaining patients through online marketing in our eBook How to Adapt to Meet Patient Demands in the New Era of Urgent Care, and more about patient engagement strategies in the Ultimate eBook for Patient Engagement >>
Today more than ever, it’s critical to have a digital marketing strategy that aligns with modern online search behaviors. Simply having a website and social media pages is not enough to compete in this space. Here are some of the key factors that influence your online presence.
While patient engagement tools can help make your website functionally better, your first concern is that your site appears at the top of the page in search results. This is largely dependent on your SEO (search engine optimization) strategy. In a nutshell, it means that for every keyword you want to show up for (TB testing, physicals, vaccines, etc.,) Google needs to believe that the content on your site is a good match for the person searching the term.
You probably don’t have a dedicated landing page for every single service you provide. Therefore, writing blogs about those subjects (with keywords in the headline, headers, and content,) that link off to relevant landing pages will help fill in the gaps. If you link to these on social media, be sure to use those keywords in the post, because it improves your subject authority.
A strong SEO strategy is ongoing and deliberate. If you can’t contract out your SEO needs, make sure the person handling it at your clinic has training in this area.
Supplement your organic traffic with paid ads like Google AdWords. You can be specific about who sees your ads, like those within a geographic range. Target keywords that you don’t already rank on page one for organically. This will not only put you at the top of the page, but put you top of mind.
Anyone searching Google for an urgent care clinic will get a bundle of local listings. You need to make sure you show up here. Always have an updated, complete Google My Business page. That’s your most important local listing. You should also check that you appear on other local platforms like Yelp and Apple Maps.
These local listings, particularly Google My Business (GMB), are also where you accumulate reviews. Most consumers use reviews to make choices. Naturally, the greater quantity and positivity of your reviews, the better your Google ranking, and the more likely you are to get business. You can help build online reviews with those post-visit surveys we mentioned in the engagement section. Include a link to your GMB listing at the end of the survey, and simply ask for a review.
Need more help with your web presence? Learn how to manage SEO for urgent care in this guide >>
Have more questions about any of these tips? Our consultants are here to help. Whether you’re just starting out or expanding your footprint, we understand what it takes to succeed. See what we have to offer.