urgent care industry trends

The Public Health Emergency (PHE) introduced a lot of changes to the urgent care industry in 2020. COVID-19 testing impacted coding, billing, workflow, safety protocols, and labor. It also brought a record number of patients into urgent care centers.

As a result, urgent cares have increased visibility, new growth opportunities, and an elevated status in the healthcare ecosystem.

Experity hosted a webinar about four urgent care industry trends that will impact business success. Here is a summary of what we covered.

Looking for the Q&A roundup to this webinar? Find it here >>

 

1. Repeat visits and patient loyalty

Within the record-breaking number of urgent care visits were a lot of new patients. According to Experity data, twice as many new patients visited urgent care clinics in 2020 than in previous years.

This presents an opportunity to capitalize on new patient volume with repeat visits. How do you cultivate ongoing relationships with patients you’ve served during the COVID-19 crisis?

Here is a snapshot of best practices:

  • Add additional services including primary care
  • Create clinic awareness
  • Foster good culture and invest in staff improvement
  • Properly set patient expectations
  • Utilize urgent-care-specific patient engagement tools
  • Create and exceptional patient experience
  • Thank your patients with a letter or phone call

Pro Tip: Claudio Varga, Director of Operations at Vital Urgent Care, speaks at length about the pros and cons of having a hybrid facility that offers both urgent and primary care. He says that the seed for repeat business is planted at the first visit. Most importantly, the secret to patient loyalty is people — from the front desk to the exam room. “You can make up for some deficiencies when you have good people.”

 

2. Occupational Medicine

You don’t need to add space or staff to offer Occupational Medicine (OccMed) at your urgent care. By cross-training your team to administer OccMed services, you can add an ongoing revenue stream that gives visibility to your urgent care services.

OccMed encompasses those services that employers need for hiring and compliance. It includes drug screening, physicals, workers compensation injury care, employee wellness programs, and worksite immunizations. It serves industries like transportation, police and fire, assisted living, and those where employees are at a high risk of getting hurt.

From a business perspective, OccMed is different in that the employer is your client, not the employee. Here is an overview of how to build a strong OccMed practice:

  • Wear your sales/business development hat
  • Stay connected to the community
  • Understand employer challenges and provide solutions
  • Promote urgent care services (non-work related) and how they can assist with employer challenges
  • Offer onsite exams

Pro Tip:  OccMed accounts for 50 percent of business at East County Urgent Care. Its Executive Director Omid Akbari advises joining your local chamber of commerce. “That is the best thing that I have done in the past few years…because it gives you immediate access to small to medium-sized companies. You can meet the owners, you can talk to them and understand their pain points, and then when you decide to start offering the OccMed services, you already know a couple of potential clients.”

 

3. Urgent care marketing

Experity reporting shows that 48 percent of urgent care’s 2020 patient base is net-new. This provides a unique opportunity to leverage your databases to market to people who already know you.

In addition to traditional marketing strategies, you can execute effective digital campaigns to support your overall marketing efforts. For example, prompting patients to write a review can help you build a positive online reputation and secure higher ranking in a local search result.

Think of modern urgent care marketing as two-pronged: brand building and the patient journey. Brand building will be a mix of digital media, conventional media, and grassroots tactics. These include direct mail, community events, and streaming video ads. Whereas patient-journey marketing is primarily digital, with most efforts supporting clicks and ranking in a search result.

Here is an overview of strategies to consider for a modern urgent care marketing plan:

  • Get involved with your local community and offer solutions
  • Display clear signage and billboards
  • Optimize your Google My Business account
  • Consider the mix – traditional, digital, PR, social
  • Create a user-friendly and quality website
  • Offer a post-visit survey
  • Ask for and respond to reviews

Pro tip: Both Varga and Akbari speak to the value of emailing or texting post-treatment surveys to build positive online reviews. A simple way to do this is to provide a link to your Google listing at the end of the survey and ask for a review. However, you can also use smart technology to only send a review request to those who submit positive responses in the survey.

 

4. Strategic vendor partnerships

Getting patients in and out quickly is critical to urgent care operations.

More patients per hour leads to more revenue per hour, greater utilization of labor, and shorter wait times. Shorter wait times means greater patient satisfaction, positive reviews—and future business.

With all these important pieces connected, success is easier with a partner who understands the industry. Experity found that urgent cares with adaptable tech stacks and a committed partner were better equipped to face business fluctuations in 2020.

Additionally, clinics that use Experity RCM services realized $14 more revenue per visit, making them both better able to handle industry challenges, and more profitable.

Here is an overview of what a great partner should do for you:

  • Meet your urgent-care-specific needs
  • Respond & innovate for the future
  • Optimize your revenue
  • Understand your goals and how to achieve them
  • Act as a trusted partner, not a vendor

Pro Tip: Alan Ayers, President of Strategic Initiatives at Experity, shared his experience opening urgent care centers when COVID-19 hit. “This time last year, I was actually operating urgent care centers, and I was put in a position where … we closed a location that had only been open 45 days, so we were only seeing about 20 patients a day. But when we flipped back on…we immediately became the highest volume test site in the nation’s sixth largest city. Experity responded quickly with modifications to the queuing system, e-registration, and other things to help us with our processes to adapt to the new business environment that had been thrust upon us in urgent care.”

 

Learn the full story

Our experts shared a ton of valuable information in the webinar. To listen to what else they had to say, click to watch 4 Emerging Trends for a New Era in Urgent Care — on demand now.