Your local urgent care clinic provides a great alternative to either having to make an appointment at a doctor’s office during scheduled hours or enduring the expense and long waits of hospital emergency room care. An urgent care clinic is designed to bridge the gap between an emergency room in hospital and a doctor’s office. As with anything, though, urgent care services must evolve. This means that walk in medical services need to respond to consumer trends as urgent care becomes more widely available and better known.
- Urgent care is improving the patient experience. As more patients choose an urgent care clinic for the medical needs, urgent care centers are responding to the reality that every patient is different. One-size-fits-all approaches to medical care aren’t going to work for everyone, and it’s important to get patients to interact with the clinic in the same way they are now accustomed to interacting with a restaurant or a coffee shop. People are not willing to rearrange their time in order to fit schedules, and allowing people to order something online and then run by to pick it up is become standard business practice. The same sort of method is increasingly popular with urgent care and walk in clinics, who are inviting patients to get in line before they even arrive. Text updates can inform patients of delays or changes, and the entire checkout process is being revamped to be confident but non-threatening. Clinics can also leverage the power of the Internet to get patients to give positive reviews, share their experiences with social media, and give feedback that will help them tweak the experience to meet customer expectations.
- Urgent care clinics are merging and entering into partnerships. This not only makes it easier to keep down costs, but also allows an urgent care clinic to evolve and provide new and better services to patients. Mergers with hospitals mean the hospital can benefit from the increased revenue from an urgent care clinic and ease the burden on their emergency room services, while also making it easier for the clinic to offer more advanced services and easy referrals for difficult cases and emergencies.
- The workforce in urgent care is changing. There is a shortage of primary care doctors nationwide, and urgent care facilities are looking for ways to address and correct this problem. Much of what an urgent care facility provides in terms of healthcare can be done by interns, nurse practitioners, and other healthcare professionals without an MD. Front desk personnel are also evolving to do more than just answer a phone call or pass out a form. Increasingly, they need to provide the customers with a positive experience and be experts in data entry, insurance verification and application, comfortable fee collecting, and even in giving out information relative to a patient’s needs.
- Urgent care clinics are doing more with all the data available to them. Enormous amounts of data are available to everyone these days, and figuring out what to do with it is something every business has to learn. Big data analytics is making it easier than ever to figure out what data is relevant, draw it out, and then use to improve performance and operations. Some of the data most relevant to the urgent care world include marketing strategies, cost-effectiveness, location choice, staff performance metrics, and customer satisfaction.
- Putting in new service lines makes customers happier. As urgent care clinics expand their offerings and locations, new lines of service can both increase customer satisfaction and provide alternative revenue. Some clinics are now offering physical therapy, weight loss programs, travel medicine and vaccines, skin care, and school health programs. These kinds of services can also help a clinic engage more closely with the community, raising awareness and interest in the clinic.
Change is part of life in America, and every business that hopes to see continued success and growth needs to figure out how to change in productive, consumer-friendly ways. The urgent care clinic movement is already changing the way people view healthcare: it’s time to see if the clinics can change in response to patients.