Your patients and your bottom line matter a lot. So does your team. Your team is comprised of your most loyal brand ambassadors, they are the first face and voice to greet your patients, and they set the tone of your waiting room and entire clinic. If they are overwhelmed, your patient experience will suffer. If they feel under appreciated, your clinic will pay the price.
Urgent care centers are different from Primary Care (PC) physicians, Emergency Departments, and from Retail Clinics. The emphasis at urgent care centers is on the patient experience, and dealing with their problems and issues when they arise.
In order to so, you need a team that:
- Works efficiently
- Loves their jobs
- Keeps your customers informed and happy
- Maintains a clean, engaging environment.
Primary Care Providers (PCPs)
Underwritten by insurance, Primary Care Physician service is predicated on the availability of a doctor, not the immediate need of the patient. Some patients (particularly in large urban centers) are obtaining appointments 6 to 8 weeks in the future before they can see a physician. Some people cannot even locate a PC physician to act as their “medical home”.
Emergency Departments (EDs)
Emergency departments are interested in providing immediate care as quickly as possible, but the median wait time in 2015 was 2½ hours, and in some cases stretching to 8 hours. And all that waiting still results in a very high bill for the emergency services they provide. Sometimes you get hit with a $300 Facility Fee just for walking in the door.
Retail clinics, who are often associated with drug store chains or large retail outlets, supply reasonably inexpensive, but limited quick-care. This service is provided through Nurse Practitioners (NP) or Physician Assistants (PA). You can drop by here to get a flu shot or a vaccination; for a cold, a sore throat, or ear infection; you can even be screened for high cholesterol or hypertension. That, however, is about the limit of their services.
Urgent Care Centers (UCCs)
Urgent Care Centers fill the entire remaining gap in our Healthcare System. For some people lacking a medical home, they fulfill the role of PCP for those with chronic conditions.
Does your baby have a touch of croup? Did you sprain your wrist, or think you broke a bone? Did you slice your finger with a knife while making dinner? All of these episodic incidents are the domain of the UCC.
The best of the UCCs offer suturing, bone-setting, a large array of diagnostic tests, including hematology & urology, x-rays, and even Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)—and they do it at between 10%-50% of the cost of a visit to the Emergency Department. Even more astonishing is that many UCCs have hit the 90th percentile in terms of patient satisfaction! That is virtually unachievable for a PC physician, or an Emergency Department.
The 5 Secrets to Urgent Care Staffing
Aside from the significantly reduced costs compared to an ER visit, and the (often guaranteed) 15 minute wait to see an NP or a PA, and/or 30 minutes to see an MD, UCCs tend to hire great staff.
1. Where do you find great urgent care staff?
You can place online ads, newspaper ads, magazines notices that are industry-specific, or you can attend Job Fairs—and you might find an amazing star-employee—but don’t count on it. Your first-rate, topnotch performers are going to come from your long-term employees and friends-of-friends in your personal network.
Your connections can point you to top rated facility managers, well-connected product buyers, and billing/collection folks that speak directly with your clients and make a strong impression; they’ll know physicians who want a change of pace from a family practice, or who desire a change from emergency room drama, with less stress and more predictable outcomes; they can keep you informed about accomplished NPs or PAs that they trained with who are moving to the area.
Whomever you select, make sure you get them credentialed (for billing purposes) right away and make sure all the background checks came back clean for everyone else.
2. Defining Urgent Care Staff Duties & Responsibilities
Your people that work at Reception must be great, too. Calm, cool, collected (the 3 Cs), no matter what walks in the door, and able to do preliminary triage by sight (of course). But they also need to show human interest and treat the more conventional walk-ins like they matter. They need to smile, show interest, provide accurate wait times (“just a few minutes” is a forbidden phrase) and give patients today’s password for the free Wi-Fi.
Your X-ray or MRI technicians need to be unfailingly supportive and considerate. Your phlebotomist needs to know how to deal properly with children.
Even your maintenance/janitorial crew needs to be great. They interact with people periodically, but even when they don’t, they’re making the visit to your facility reassuring by keeping it spotless, so that it looks (and actually is) sanitary and clean. They can’t skip mopping behind the potted plant or under the radiator because everybody in the reception room that is sitting down can see the accumulated dust.
3. Well-planned Work Schedules
Everybody should know their work schedule a month or two in advance. Weekends are not “voluntary”. The phrase “The schedule is The Schedule” should be written in stone somewhere. Trading days might be permitted, but all such changes need to be authorized by management. Coverage of the UCC’s needs comes ahead of staff convenience.
4. Be Disciplined with Your Urgent Care Staff
In the medical profession there are strict state and federal requirements. To reduce your exposure to malpractice risk make each employee responsible for assuring that their paperwork is in compliance. If duties aren’t outlined clearly the staff cannot be expected to reach full compliance, so it’s important to have crystal clear job descriptions, and hold employees to a high standard.
It is illogical to keep a staff member who can’t reach compliance, because of the financial exposure for the clinic. Confine them to do duties they can manage until you can train them or replace them. Anything else simply isn’t worth the risk.
5. Watch Out for Burn-out
Just make sure everybody gets sufficient downtime. Once you’ve collected your premium staff you don’t want to burn them out. Part time staff can play a significant role in this area.
If you appreciate your staff, that will be reflected in their work. If you care about them, they’ll care about your patients. Give them credit when they come up with a good idea; reward them for innovation. Offer them opportunities for training or promotions.
If you provide a happy, light, rewarding work environment 90% of the time, that will make it so much easier to cope during an unpleasant time due to a highly demanding situation. Your employees will finish their shift saying “Wow, I hope we don’t have another day like that soon!”, but they’ll be prepared and optimistic about coming back to work the next day.
Your employees, all of them, from top to bottom, are your business. The way you interact with them is a direct reflection of how they interact with your customers, and that is a direct reflection of how your clients will perceive your clinic.
93% of front desk staff recommends Solv. Why? Because through online check-in and digital insurance, your team gets time back. By giving your team direct feedback and access to the upcoming day’s schedule, they can be the hero and feel ownership in their role. And lastly, Solv is so easy to use that teams are empowered to use it and share it!