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When you’re launching a new urgent care clinic or becoming a hybrid clinic with new service lines, you have so many things to consider. Over the years, our blog has featured 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. For startups, it may be best to focus on your daily operations in the first few months after launch, but 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 with primary care, occupational medicine, or other ancillary service lines.
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.
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 OccMed 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.
An entrepreneurial attitude is one of the hallmarks of the urgent care industry. With constant movement towards new ways of delivering care, many clinics are now finding ways to incorporate telemedicine into their business. Telemedicine isn’t really new, but it has become an important component of healthcare services in the post-COVID-19 world. It is more readily available to the general public than ever before. Once the domain of astronauts and patients with extraordinary needs, it’s becoming a more common—and convenient—way for patients to visit with their doctor.
Urgent care and telemedicine can in most cases peacefully walk hand in hand because they 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. Telemedicine offers:
Telemedicine can be used for a wide variety of health services from respiratory infections to skin irritations and sports injuries.
At its most basic, telemedicine requires the addition of secure video to your clinic, enabling private interaction between patients and care providers. Telemedicine-specific training focused on best practices in this unique healthcare space will also help to ensure the success of your telemedicine practice and the satisfaction of your patients.
Many urgent care centers are considering the addition of primary care services to their offerings because in many markets, timely access to primary care physicians is increasingly difficult to find. As urgent care practitioners build relationships through urgent care visits, their patients are more inclined to want to see them again for basic healthcare needs traditionally available through their primary care provider. This is especially true in rural areas.
Primary care includes health promotion, disease prevention, health maintenance, patient education, diagnosis, and treatment of acute and chronic illnesses.
“Hybrid” clinics that offer urgent care plus primary care are becoming more common, but require solutions that handle primary care workflows, historical patient data, and documentation, and facilitate longer-term patient care. Choosing a solution that accommodates workflow for both types of care is an important part of success for urgent care clinics that offer primary care services.
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.
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.
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.
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.