The urgent care business is booming, with 90% of urgent care centers anticipating growth in the coming year, and 73% acquiring or building a new location in the past year. Urgent cares are helping bridge the growing disparity between patient needs and the decreasing number of private physicians. By providing walk in appointments, after hour and weekend availability, patients have more ease of access to high quality care.
The market for urgent cares are growing, with most clinics reporting an average of over 15,000 visits per year -- panning out to an average of three patient visits per hour and 50 visits per day. Factors like the high cost of healthcare, shortage in primary care doctors, and the demographics of the market have been driving the industry to expand. Here's what you can expect to see happening in the urgent care landscape in the coming future:
1. A different kind of patient
The kinds of patients who are most likely to utilize these kinds of stand alone clinics have a need for on-demand health services that can fit into their schedule more easily, and are far more flexible with quick appointment times. Some patients have trouble getting an appointment during a sudden illness with their primary care physicians, and need the flexibility and instant treatment that urgent care clinics can offer.
- 67% of patient visits are commercially insured
- 17% are Medicare or Medicaid
- 12% are fully cash pay
- 4% are other (tri-care ,worker's comp, employer services, etc.)
In order to entice this busy, time-crunched crowd, urgent care clinics are beginning to emphasize technology that makes it quick and easy to essentially reserve an appointment, much like you would call ahead at a restaurant to request a table. Wait times are often shown in the waiting area, and technology is being implemented to help with patient check-ins, payments, and time transparency. In fact, 90% of urgent cares had a 30 minute or less wait to see a provider in the past year, with 90% also keeping the total patient visit below 60 minutes.
2. Expanding services
Urgent care clinics are also expanding their offers in order to draw more patients for care to provide solutions to many of their patients' wants and needs including wellness checkups, physical therapy, travel medicine, weight loss and nutritional services, school checkups, and dermatology services. Another significant change in recent urgent care services is tele-medicine, which allows patients the chance to have a virtual visit from wherever they are, meaning that urgent cares just got a whole lot more accessible, fast, and simple for patients to use.
Urgent cares are there to serve the community, and this identity is becoming more and more important to their patients. Even in the online sphere, patients want to be able to find reliable resources and reviews related to the clinics they're going to. One way to implement this into marketing strategies is by utilizing SEM and SEO content through educational blog posts, social media messaging, multi-media graphics and videos, and fast response times.
More and more stand alone clinics are also delving into their brand-awareness by participating in local health fairs, sponsoring local sports teams, offering discounted school examinations, and donating to local causes in order to build trust and establish mutually beneficial relationships within their communities. Some even go so far as to become partners with their patients in family membership plans, which provides fixed rates for basic visits, in response to the need for an affordable healthcare alternative in many areas. This kind of community-mindedness is helping urgent care clinics to thrive and grow beyond even typical private practices.
4. Data-driven marketing
Community-oriented clinics are on the rise, but the strategies behind them are driven by data. From staff performance (patient satisfaction, visit volumes, etc.) to real time service recovery (post-visit satisfaction survey) to everything from site selection, creating a marketing strategy based on demographic and current patient monitoring to marketing attribution to track campaign effectiveness and ROI.
- Staff Performance - Urgent cares are rethinking the structure of typical healthcare organizational umbrellas. The top staffing model is currently one physician, one physician assistant, two medial assistance, one radiologist technician, one center manager and two receptionists. The goal is to provide a satisfying patient experience every step of the way, from efficient check in to an informative visit. In order to monitor the success of the clinic, it's important to survey patient satisfaction and visit volumes with an eye to keeping the jobs competitive and efficient.
- Real Time Service Recovery - Based on post-visit surveys, this data analysis takes into account wait times; total time spent at the clinic from check-in to check out; experience with staff and treatment; as well as overall experience from scheduling to the waiting room.
- Site Selection - Using real-time data, site selection enables urgent cares to measure their ideal audience's actual location (taking into account workers, schools, and homes) and their drive times to a location, the availability of competitors in the same area, and the place where they can obtain the highest number of their target population as patients.
- Marketing Strategy - Data should always drive marketing, and healthcare is no different. By monitoring current and past patient behaviors, trends, and attributes, urgent care clinics can gain a better understanding of their audience, and what the best marketing strategies are to continue to reach these prospects, as well as where they may need to make adjustments.
- Marketing Attribution - Finally, data should always be used to track and analyze ongoing and previous marketing campaigns to identify growth and risk potentials, as well as the correlation between marketing efforts and ROI. This knowledge allows marketers to adjust and refine strategies based on actionable insights.
These predictive analytics and bench marking tools are helping to boost the stand alone clinic industry into new heights, allowing them to better serve their patients, as well as increase efficiency and profit. It can be overwhelming, but urgent cares need not try to work through these solutions alone. Altair offers custom site selection, marketing insights, and attribution, in order to assist urgent care clinics with marketing efforts in order to help them better reach and benefit their patients.