Pediatric Urgent Care

Pediatric Urgent Care

Urgent care has proven to be a convenient and useful healthcare option for individuals and their family members.  That said, urgent care consumers value providers that specialize in the type of care they are seeking. The movement has resulted in the upsurge of specialized urgent care models.  Pediatric urgent care is one specialized model that is rapidly growing in both popularity and numbers as parents seek out providers that understand pediatric patients.

Why is pediatric urgent care flourishing and rapidly growing, you ask?  Pediatric urgent care has gained momentum as parents pursue care from clinicians with extensive knowledge geared toward their children.  Pediatric urgent care staff members have additional training and resources in treating and interacting with children. The clinic is also designed to be inviting and visually appealing for children, resulting in a more comfortable visit for patients and their families. 

So what can be done to better equip a current urgent care for the pediatric patient?  There are many resources for educating providers and other staff members on pediatric topics:

  • Attend industry conferences, such as the Urgent Care Association Fall Convention, which includes a special pediatric urgent care track to gain knowledge on new pediatric practices. 
  • The Society for Pediatric Urgent Care and PM Pediatrics host separate annual conferences that provide valuable and informative sessions on new equipment, instruments, processes and more. 
  • Encourage providers to educate themselves on pediatric matters by attending CME sessions and programs. 
  • Create standing operating procedures for the pediatric patient to build confidence in staff and maintain consistency in the patient experience. 
  • Design one or two exam rooms for children, such as adding cartoon clings or painting a mural on one wall, to help the pediatric patient feel at ease in the center. 
  • Finally, strategic marketing to local schools and places that families frequent will spread the word that your urgent care is prepared to treat adult and pediatric patients equally. 

Continually pursuing knowledge and training for pediatric patients will help set your urgent care apart.

Clean Urine Collection for a UTI

Clean Urine Collection for a UTI

One of the most common reasons that people visit an urgent care center is for urinary tract infections. While the procedure for testing and treating a UTI is simple, urgent care centers must be properly prepared to handle urine collection for UTI’s in order for labs to run an accurate test.

So what can you, as a hopeful urgent care start up or expansion, do to prepare? Here are some tips and tricks to guarantee clean urine sampling for a patient who has a UTI.

1 – Purchase the required supplies and set a standard process.
  • Be sure to have supplies on hand, such as sterile urine cups and benzokonium wipes to provide an uncontaminated test result.
2 – Make sure Urine collections are uncontaminated during the collection
  • The best way to insure that all urine collections for UTIs are not contaminated by surface bacteria is to provide clear communication between staff members and patients. This can take shape in many forms, such as written guidelines or procedures. Note: There is a difference between male and female urine collections, for additional resources, click here.
3 – Proper Urine Storage
  • If the collected urine is going to arrive at the lab resource the same day, it is okay to store at room temperature. However, if it is going to be longer than 12 hours before the specimen arrives at the lab, store in a refrigerated area. This will make sure that all urine specimens are properly tested with the best results.

As the experts in urgent care, we are here to help you! Whether you want to start your own urgent care or expand, we will make sure you are winning every step of the way.

 

Suboxone in the Urgent Care Setting

Suboxone in the Urgent Care Setting

Addiction treatment has become a hot topic as more and more people find themselves looking for options to treat addiction. There are many ways to treat drug addictions; one of the more prevalent treatments is drug substitution, combined with other therapies and a focus on overall wellness. Suboxone treatments can be used to treat opioid addiction. With urgent care centers possessing a certain amount of agility to provide a larger scope of services, many operators are looking to these treatments as a way to drive more revenue into their centers.

National figures indicate that there are millions of people managing narcotic addictions and only 2% of physicians are properly licensed to provide suboxone treatment. Insurance coverage for these treatments is staggered and even when coverage is provided, it may be minimal. Many patients are forced to or opt to pay out of pocket for their addiction treatments, including prescription costs. With the high demand and pricing going largely unregulated, this allows for centers and physicians to set their own rates for the prescriptions and ancillary treatment services.

Careful consideration should be taken if pursuing suboxone treatment in the urgent care setting. It is recommended to establish the suboxone treatment practice as a separate entity from the urgent care. This would involve obtaining a new tax ID number, staff, marketing strategy and most importantly a separate space. The urgent care center should remain the focus of operational efforts, as it will continue to realize the bulk of the revenue. By offering service settings that are catered to both types of patients, center operations should run smoothly and provide for the convenient and discreet experience every patient will appreciate.

When it comes to additional revenue streams, it is important to consider the universal impact a new service offering may have on the existing operations.

 

Discuss Your Urgent Care Needs

Urgent Care Consultants specializes in starting urgent care centers from the ground up. Let us connect you with one of our experts today.

The Unexpected Marketing Value of Sports Physicals

The Unexpected Marketing Value of Sports Physicals

Traditional marketing tactics, such as placing billboards and radio ads, are great ways to promote your urgent care center’s services, but they can also be quite expensive. That’s why it’s important to maximize the reach of your marketing dollars by integrating grassroots marketing efforts into your marketing plan. One such tactic that has been effective for many urgent care centers is to offer sports physicals to area students.

Sports Physicals as a Marketing Tactic

It might seem like you’re just adding another service line, but the business goal of offering sports physicals isn’t actually to turn a profit. Rather, the business goal of offering sports physicals is to capture future injury and illness visits at your center. When urgent care centers invest in sports physical promotions, they typically see long-term results such as:

  • Student athletes returning annually for physicals. If a student participates in multiple activities over 6 to 12 years, they could return 20 or more times.
  • Recurring revenue from families returning with younger siblings.
  • Students returning to those same urgent care centers into their 20s and 30s.

This is because sports physicals introduce coaches, parents and student athletes to the urgent care center’s providers and services, keeping it “top-of-mind” should any of those segments experience an injury or illness later on. Within the scope of your urgent care center’s annual marketing plan, you should view sports physicals as a seasonal marketing campaign because it is a seasonal marketing tactic used to promote your center’s services.

Developing a Sports Physicals Program

When developing your sports physicals program, you’ll need to determine a variety of factors, including how much to charge, which schools to partner with, and how to build relationships with schools in your area.

What to Charge

Sports physicals aren’t usually covered by insurance, so they are typically a cash-pay service. When setting a price, watch market conditions and competitor pricing, but don’t get caught up in price wars. One urgent care center, for example, partnered with a local children’s magazine and radio station to provide free sports physicals. The short-term response was excellent, but long-term results showed that very few patients who had received free physicals returned after 12 months to seek treatment for illness or injury.

Further analysis revealed that many who had come for the free physicals traveled from low-income areas outside the center’s catchment. In other words, these families made a special trip for the free physicals. The center did a great job drawing in visits during the promotion but failed at growing future visits for illness or injury, which was the actual business goal. When considering what to charge for sports physicals, it’s best to pursue other marketing tactics if your center cannot reasonably compete with the established competition.

Building Relationships

Building relationships with coaches and athletics directors will help you get the most value out of your efforts because they will promote your center to their student athletes and their families. And any sports physicals you offer could potentially be promoted in school newsletters, websites and other school communications. There’s no magic formula for the best time to contact a coach or athletics director; the timing is unique to each program or school. However, the general recommendation is to contact athletics directors in May before school is dismissed and staff is out for the summer. The key messages you’ll want to communicate to the coach or athletics director are:

  • Your urgent care center can help ensure their student athletes are compliant
  • Your center can cater a sports physical promote to meet the specific needs of the school or athletic program
  • Your center can treat student athletes’ sport-related injuries, such as fractures, sprains, strains, cuts and abrasions
  • Your services are significantly less expensive than a hospital emergency room, and your wait times are significantly shorter
  • Your vendor partnerships will allow you to provide durable medical equipment, such as ankle braces, walker boots and wrist braces, as well as other supplies, such as first aid kits

Although most children have pediatricians who could perform their sports physicals, there’s no beating the convenience the walk-in, extended hours of an urgent care center provides. With the right partnerships and strategy in place, a sports physicals promotion can be a great way to promote your urgent care’s services to families in your community.

Discuss Your Urgent Care Needs

Urgent Care Consultants specializes in starting urgent care centers from the ground up. Let us connect you with one of our experts today.

Urgent Care Startups Cut Labor Expenses with Medical Assistants

Urgent Care Startups Cut Labor Expenses with Medical Assistants

Labor is the single largest expense in urgent care operations. Rather than hire more expensive clinicians, urgent care startups should adopt a lean staffing model that optimizes the training of medical assistants (MAs) so they can perform both clinical and clerical duties. This kind of medical assistant-heavy staffing model can help keep labor costs in check so a new urgent care center doesn’t blow its budget on staffing expenses before its business is financially viable.

The Urgent Care Staffing Model

Many urgent care centers run into financial trouble because they follow hospital system staffing models that employ specialized labor for each task, such as registered nurses for medication distribution, RTs for x-rays and lab technicians/phlebotomists for blood draws. The problem with this staffing model is that many of these specialized tasks are only needed a few times a day in the urgent care setting, so hiring for these positions creates unnecessary spikes in labor costs.

This is why the position of medical assistant aligns so well with the urgent care model. Depending on your state laws, a medical assistant with the proper training and certifications can perform many of the clinical functions typically completed by a registered nurse, providing urgent care startups with significant cost-savings. According to the Urgent Care Association of America’s 2016 Benchmarking Survey, the average hourly pay of an RN was $25.68 compared to $14.86 an hour for an MA. The reality is that RNs are more highly paid clinicians than are actually required in the urgent care setting. And RNs agree; they turn over pretty quickly in pursuit of higher-paying positions in long-term care or nurse management, or they pursue advanced credentials, such as nurse practitioner or nurse doctorate.

Medical Assistant Clinical Scope of Practice

There is no national standard of education or government regulation defining what clinical functions a medical assistant can or cannot perform by law. Each state sets its own laws, so it’s critical that you familiarize yourself with your state’s laws. However, in all states, the licensed physician is legally and professionally responsible for the actions of the medical assistant. Medical assistants essentially act as auxiliaries to physicians. While they are not licensed, they practice under the license of their delegating physician. However, under no circumstances can a medical assistant be presented as a licensed practitioner, and any tasks delegated to the medical assistant must be within the licensed physician’s authority to perform.

Medical assistants typically take patient vital signs, explain and set the expectations for the office visit, and prep the patient for the exam. Properly trained and certified medical assistants can also take on some clinical duties, such as blood draws; operating the x-ray machine; assisting with medical exams; removing sutures; changing dressings; administering medications, vaccines and immunizations; and reporting the provider’s direction on lab results and recommendations to patients. In all states, MA’s are not allowed to provide medical advice without a provider’s direction. They can also work the front desk by helping with clerical, administrative and patient registration tasks.

Ultimately, the scope of clinical tasks that states allow physicians to delegate to medical assistants is quite expansive, making an MA-heavy staffing model a no-brainer.

Physician Resistance to Medical Assistants

One of major barriers to the medical assistant staffing model is physician resistance. Many physicians who get into urgent care have emergency department backgrounds, where they are used to working with nurses. In the ED, nurses tend to manage themselves, while medical assistants require active management from physicians. Coupled with the fact that physicians are liable for the medical assistant’s mistakes, many physicians are resistant to the idea of a medical assistant staffing model.

However, there is no denying the financial benefits to this staffing model, so physicians should keep an open mind about working with medical assistants. Establishing well-defined protocols and directions in advance will give medical assistants structure on how to approach and prioritize clinical and administrative tasks. Clearly communicating the medical assistants’ roles and responsibilities to the care team will take the guesswork out of what the MA should be doing at any given time, and periodically sitting down with the medical assistants to talk about work quality and overall performance will help them start to work more independently.

It may seem like a lot of work up front, but it’s worth the investment. Well-trained medical assistants can perform most clinical tasks in most states, so by forgoing higher paid clinicians such as RNs and moving to a medical assistant staffing model, your urgent care startup can realize tens of thousands of dollars in annual labor cost savings.

Discuss Your Urgent Care Needs

Urgent Care Consultants specializes in starting urgent care centers from the ground up. Let us connect you with one of our experts today.

Employee Engagement has Major Impact on Your Urgent Care Startup’s Bottom Line

Employee Engagement has Major Impact on Your Urgent Care Startup’s Bottom Line

If you think employee engagement is just a soft perk created by entitled Millennials, you’re in for a rude awakening.

Disengaged employees can have a serious financial impact on your urgent care business, making more mistakes than their engaged counterparts and costing businesses billions of dollars annually in lost productivity. That’s why it’s crucial for urgent care operators to build a strong organizational culture that engages and supports employees at all levels of the organization. Failing to do so can bring an urgent care startup to financial ruin.

Table 1 illustrates the returns on salaries a business typically sees based on employee engagement:

Table 1. Financial Consequences of Employee Disengagement
Engagement Level Return on Salary
Fully engaged 120%
Engaged 100%
Somewhat engaged 80%
Disengaged 60%
Data from Employee engagement. Albertson, NY: Employer Assistance and Resource Network; 2014 [cited 2015 March 2].

In the urgent care setting, frontline staff members are the most vulnerable to experiencing disengagement. Why? It’s your frontline staff who has to endure the daily slings and arrows of patient and provider demands.

Take, for example, a registration specialist who tries to share her ideas about operational improvements, but her managers continually ignore her. To make matters worse, her managers also treat her position like it’s expendable because it requires the least amount of formal education and pays the lowest salary of all the positions at the urgent care center.

Demoralized, she starts to make careless errors in capturing accurate patient demographics, resulting in the center later receiving numerous “zero EOB” notifications, which indicate denied insurance claims. The cost in time and labor spent correcting her errors cancel out any profits from those patient encounters. If the registration specialist quits or is let go, the urgent care center must incur the cost of recruiting, onboarding and training a new employee.

The more cost-effective route would have been to keep the registration specialist engaged in the first place.

What Causes Employee Disengagement?

There are a multitude of factors that cause employee disengagement depending on the specific profession, industry or company, but these are the 13 most commonly cited causes of employee disengagement:

  • Ineffective management
  • Emotional labor
  • Repetitive work
  • Unclear expectations
  • Lack of recognition
  • Poor communication
  • Insufficient onboarding
  • Poor work relationships
  • Broken promises from management
  • Employee opinions and suggestions ignored by management
  • Workplace stress
  • Personal life stress
  • System and process issues

Most of the top-cited causes are things that can be controlled by strong leadership and organizational culture. For new urgent care operators, the key is to work on creating this kind of culture right from the start.

Creating an Engaged Culture at Your Urgent Care Startup

There are three key elements to creating an engaged urgent care team:

  1. Implement the Drivers of Employee Engagement
    Human resource specialists, workplace psychologists and engagement experts all agree that there are eight key drivers to employee engagement. Those include:
  • Setting clear expectations
  • Providing employees with regular feedback
  • Providing advancement opportunities
  • Helping employees feel like their jobs have meaning
  • Providing employee recognition
  • Building good working relationships among colleagues and supervisors
  • Allowing employees to have autonomy
  • Soliciting and then implementing employee feedback
  1. Give Managers the Keys to Being Good Leaders
    One of the single most important decisions a company can make is who it names as a manager. Although most physician-owners don’t have the management training needed to build an engaged culture, there are endless resources available that can help them learn. According to a Google study, these are some of the top qualities of a good manager:
  • Is a good coach
  • Empowers the team
  • Treats employees like people
  • Is results-oriented
  • Is a good listener
  • Encourages career development
  • Has a clear vision
  1. Develop Genuine Connections with Staff Members
    A major component of leadership is developing genuine connections with your staff members. This should be easier to achieve when you’re first starting your urgent care center and have a smaller staff, but it should never be forgotten as your practice grows and you have a larger, more departmentalized organization.

Employee engagement isn’t just an extra perk; it’s a crucial component of your business that could seriously impact your urgent care startup’s bottom line. As you develop your urgent care’s business plan, make sure to account for how you will develop your center’s organizational culture so you are prepared to lead your new staff.

Discuss Your Urgent Care Needs

Urgent Care Consultants specializes in starting urgent care centers from the ground up. Let us connect you with one of our experts today.