Urgent Care Centers and Protecting Your Practice’s Bottom Line
When a new urgent care facility opens up around the corner, should you begin to worry about patient retention and reduced profits? Perhaps. Anything that impacts your medical practice’s bottom line could ultimately compromise your patient satisfaction due to reduced staffing, fewer services, reduced hours and more. I’m sure none of this is shocking news – but you do have options.
The appeal of urgent care – If you want to compete effectively, you need to know what makes urgent care centers appealing. Specifically, it’s:
- Open long hours, so people can go at weekends or after work.
- No appointment necessary so people can go when they need to.
- Specialized services – Some urgent care facilities provide highly specialized services like orthopedics.
- It’s less expensive. Many people view health care services as a commodity – price is the point.
So how do you compete?
Proactively marketing your medical practice differently. We know more than a little about marketing, and when it comes to healthcare, it’s all about standing out, providing a personal touch, being there for your patients, and building trust. In short, it’s all about creating a connection, a compelling reason for them to come to you instead of going to your competition, where they’ll just be treated as a number.
This is about creating an excellent customer journey for your patients. Training your staff to be flexible and accommodating, providing a complete, holistic suite of healthcare services, and being accessible and convenient.
It’s about becoming a bigger part of your patients’ lives, when they’re well in addition to when they’re sick. Marketing can help you do just that – Email, interactive websites, patient portals, referral networks, and more all help to promote your services and encourage patients to trust you.
Will this help retain patients? Not all – but many will see the value in the connection and forgo the convenience and the dollars. If your patient goes to an urgent care facility, ensure you follow up.
You know your patients well, much better than an urgent care facility or similar provider. Use that to your advantage, to build a connection. Ensure your patients know to list you as their PCP or preferred specialists so medical records get routed back to you or your patients know to send you record of those visits.
There will be times patients will go to Urgent Care facilities out of pure convenience when you are closed. Acknowledge the fact and support your patients in their decision but make sure you stay in the loop of their care!
Focus on the positive things your practice does. You do much more than treat the sick. You almost certainly have wellness programs, specialized clinics, great advice on diet, exercise, and lifestyle, counselling services, guidance, and other services you can tailor to every one of your patients. Spend some time thinking about how you can promote those services, and become more than just a place people go when they need help.
Be more accessible and convenient. If a patient is ill, they need help there and then. One big advantage urgent care facilities have is that they can easily deal with walk-ins and are open long hours. Well, two can play at that game! Consider opening for longer and creating “walk in” slots and specialized clinics for your patients. You might also want to make signing up and onboarding patients quicker and easier, so that’s not a barrier to them coming to you.
Taken together, these three things can help you build more trust with your patients, let them know about your full range of services, and be there when they need you. If you get this in place, you’ll be in a much better position to give them the care they need. It’s not such a delicate balancing act now, is it.