Beyond Urgent Care: Ancillary and Specialty Services Add Value

When you’re launching a new urgent care clinic, you have so many things to consider. Over the last month, our blog has featured startup advice about choosing a location, malpractice insurance, certification, costs, and more. There’s one more topic to consider—ancillary services.

Ancillary services include a wide range of healthcare service options that you may offer patients to support your urgent care clinic. While it may be best to focus on your daily operations in the first few months after launch, it’s a good idea to be on the lookout for other specialty healthcare services that might help you increase patient flow and revenue, and also fill a need for healthcare consumers in your community.

There are a few reasons you may want to supplement your urgent care business.

  1. Seasonal business fluctuations – Seasonal fluctuations are common in the urgent care industry. Most clinics experience a higher visit volume in the winter months, during cold and flu season, and a lighter patient flow during the rest of the year. For plus business during these slower months, it’s prudent to consider adding services to get patients in the door—and increase revenue.
  2. Expanded patient base – By adding additional services lines, you can introduce prospective urgent care patients to your practice. When they come to you for a nutritional program or OccMed, be sure they get exceptional treatment that brings them back when they’re looking for same-day, on-demand healthcare. Having more clients generally increases your overall revenue.
  3. Community need – Although boosting your bottom line is always an important consideration, you may discover a strong need in your community for a particular healthcare service. Offering this service to your patients may not only build your business, but it also adds value for the consumer, making you an important contributor to the community at large.

First things first

When you’re thinking about ancillary services, be sure you do your homework. Make sure all your urgent care bases are covered first and that you can accommodate the patients that will be visiting your clinic for on-demand healthcare services. If you feel comfortable that you have the capability to offer additional services, then begin the process of researching different specialties to find the one or two that are right for your clinic and your community.

The following is a list of some of the most common—but definitely not all—of the ancillary service lines that may provide additional revenue streams for your clinic.

Occupational Medicine

Many urgent cares offer some level of occupational medicine to their patients and regional employers. OccMed typically includes workers’ compensation injury management and employer paid services. Chances are you’re already serving occupational medicine or workers’ compensation needs for patients, even if you don’t offer employer-paid services right now. These services include drug/urine testing, on-site lab testing services, flu shot clinics, and wellness exams and pre-placement physical exams.

There are occ-med opportunities in almost every community. If your clinic is located in an industry-rich area, it’s a good bet that you can provide OccMed services for pre-hire screening and for workers’ comp case management. In an area with more white-collar businesses, wellness programs may be a better choice. And almost every company, including businesses in the retail and service industries, have a need for pre-employment screenings and exams. Be selective about what services you initially choose to provide. Promote services strategically—with a focus on your strengths.

Pediatric Urgent Care

If you’re located in an area adjacent to a family-focused residential area, specializing in pediatric urgent care can add value to parents and families. While most every urgent care treats children, choosing to specialize in pediatric urgent care can set you apart from other on-demand healthcare clinics in your community. Statistically speaking, pediatric-only urgent care centers do best in more affluent communities and when staffed by pediatricians because parents are looking for high-level, specialized care for their children versus treatment by a midlevel practitioner.

Although many adults are willing to wait to see a doctor until regularly scheduled office hours, when it comes to their children, parents want to get medical care right away. With extended weeknight and evening hours, walk-in appointments, peds-focused providers, and a staff dedicated to keeping kids happy, pediatric urgent cares give parents what they want and fill a big need in today’s healthcare marketplace.

Developing a good relationship with area pediatricians and reminding patients to follow up with their regular doctors is a good way to ensure the success of your pediatric urgent care. When you can gain their trust, they may refer patients to you after hours and on weekends.

Orthopedic Urgent Care

In many cases, getting in to see an orthopedic surgeon outside of an emergency situation may take longer than most people want to wait—this explains the rising demand for orthopedic-specialized urgent care.

Offering orthopedic urgent care can be a smart choice because many primary care and urgent care clinics don’t have the expertise to treat orthopedic patients. In many cases, they will send these patients to a specialist. Not only can you fill this void with a convenient, lower-cost alternative, but orthopedic patients often experience better outcomes because of timely treatment and expert care for orthopedic injuries.

As an orthopedic urgent care, you can also consider providing wellness physicals for athletes, capturing a percentage of the sports medicine visit volume that you may not see otherwise. Some orthopedic urgent cares are able to offer immediate ortho intervention—not typically available at an urgent care clinic or even in an emergency room. Many orthopedic urgent cares are also offering concussion baselines and intervention for children involved in high impact sports like football and soccer based on the rising demand. Baseline testing is a pre-season exam used to assess an athlete’s balance and brain function (including learning and memory skills, ability to pay attention or concentrate, and how quickly he or she thinks and solve problems), as well as for the presence of any concussion symptoms. Results from baseline tests (or pre-injury tests) can be used and compared to a similar exam during the season if an athlete has a suspected concussion.

More Options

You may not be ready to go all in with a full-service specialty, but that doesn’t mean you’re out. You can find other small ways to add value to patients and revenue to your clinic. The following are a few examples.

  • Medicine Dispensing – Dispense prescriptions in your clinic to add value and convenience for patients.
  • Wellness Care – Focus on annual physicals, vaccinations, and lifestyle adjustments to improve overall health.
  • Weight Management – Offer a weight management program to help patients improve their health and fitness level. May include nutritional products and supplements.
  • Nutrition – Offer counseling and services for those with dietary restrictions or people that want to feel better through healthier eating or dieting.
  • Physical Therapy – Provide ongoing physical therapy sessions/pain management services. May include selling durable medical equipment.
  • Travel Medicine – With more global travelers than ever before, offering travel medicine services including a destination-based risk assessment, physical exam, and required vaccines. Consider including a small and attractive travel kit filled with prophylactic meds, first aid supplies, and healthy travel tips.
  • Durable Medical Equipment – Add value by making medical equipment available on site instead of sending a patient to a different location. After making a diagnosis, you can provide expert advice or use and care of recommended equipment.
  • Concussion Baselines and Testing – With increased understanding of the possible long-term implications of head injuries in athletes, requests for these screenings are on the rise and can be a new revenue stream for urgent care clinics.

The urgent care industry and the healthcare consumer continue to evolve. With that evolution new needs emerge and new opportunities show themselves. By keeping your finger on the pulse of the needs of your community, your urgent care can be the clinic to meet these changing needs – and reap the financial rewards. And with a little extra care, you’ll earn the thanks and trust of very happy patients.

 

This resource was first published prior to the 2019 merger between DocuTAP and Practice Velocity. The content reflects our legacy brands.