If COVID was the villain of 2020 and 2021, it’s being upstaged by a more subtle but still dangerous threat in 2022–inflation. As rates hold steady at 8.5%, the highest since 1981, urgent care patients are thinking carefully before making their next appointment.
Your patients aren’t the only ones feeling the pinch–prices on supplies and service fees are rising too (although not as sharply as some sectors, such as food or rent). While supply costs and service fees have started to rise, insurance contracted repayment rates are the same, negotiated years before the current economic instability. That means that the burden of finding ways to make up the difference is on operators.
What can urgent care operators do to stave off declining profits? It’s time to get creative and lean on technology to make your operation run as smoothly and efficiently as possible.
Make Every Employee Count
The labor crisis has had one of the most significant impacts on profits thus far. Great people are hard to find and even harder to keep. When you find great staff members, make their job as easy as possible by utilizing integrated software that makes scheduling, communication, EMR, and billing easy. Technology that’s interoperable with your EHR takes some of the administrative burden off your staff and allows them to focus more on patients.
When you’re short-staffed, every minute counts, so using software to let patients find your clinic and easily book care is like putting time back on the clock. Eliminate redundant work, like transferring handwritten information into an EMR, so that your front office staff will feel less stressed and overwhelmed.
That time can be reinvested wisely. How? Cross training. Use the five minutes per patient saved by using digital registration to cross-train into another position to create a backup plan for if and when disaster strikes. Or propose cross training as a perk–learning other positions offers variety in the workday and the opportunity to build new skills.
Eliminate Single Duty Products
There are only so many items you can cut in an urgent care—medical supplies won’t be the first thing to go. But does your office use technology products that overlap each other in functionality? Paying subscription or software fees for something that does the same thing as another product can quietly leach money out of your budget.
Moving to an all-in-one product can streamline your budget and eliminate new training that must be completed with new hires. Teaching one program that markets, schedules, registers, and bills can save time, cash, and your sanity.
Bring In More Patients
This may seem easier said than done, but patients don’t come to the place they never see. It’s more crucial than ever to create visibility for your urgent care brand on the web. Understand where your ideal patient base is searching for care, and make sure your urgent care clinic is bookable there.
While marketing should be a focus, creating new reasons to visit is also a good idea. Consider new services you might offer, such as medical aesthetics, physical therapy, or occupational therapy.
Expanding your business model is also an option. A membership club where patients had status of walk-in privileges could provide a steady, guaranteed cash flow even as the rest of your budget rides the inflation roller coaster.
Give Billing Options
Collecting payment can be tricky, especially as patient budgets get tighter. While urgent care operators want that time of service payment, many patients need more flexible options such as a payment plan.
As many Americans opt for high deductible health plans, additional support may be needed to help them understand their deductible, copayments, and coinsurance. Those with FSA or HSA plans may require documentation to aid them in making claims. Use a billing app that allows direct in-app payments or partial payments, as well as payment history, to increase patient satisfaction and loyalty down the road.
The coming years may require more technological savvy to cut costs and increase profit margins, but you have a partner in Solv. Our team is listening and working to create more time savings, expanded capabilities, and ease of use so you can streamline your workflow and save money simultaneously. How can Solv help you today?