Many in the urgent care industry are well accustomed to the summertime slump, but are feeling it more acutely this year after not experiencing it for several summers during the pandemic. Following a busy cold and flu season in late fall and winter, many urgent care clinics typically see a significant decrease in patient volume from June through August each year as schools let out and people generally don’t congregate indoors as much.
The good news is, a summer slowdown doesn’t have to mean bad news for patient acquisition and your clinic’s finances. By implementing the right strategies, clinics can keep patient volumes, staffing, and revenue healthy throughout the summer, and continue to grow their business.
Here’s how you can maximize efficiency and set your urgent care clinic on the path to financial success heading into the summer:
1. Identify your Markets Potential
It’s important to have a good understanding of how seasonal factors might impact your patient flow. If you’re located in a popular vacation town, your clinic might be much busier than one that’s located in an area where people tend to vacate for the summer. Understanding your patient landscape not only helps you set proper expectations but also helps guide your approach to patient acquisition.
Identifying your target demographics for each of your core service lines—and thoroughly understanding that group’s needs and preferences—is key as work to position your urgent care clinic as the right choice for new patients. For example, one target demographic may be college students who are looking for vaccines. Another could be teenagers who need pre-employment health screenings such as urine drug tests.
2. Engage with Local Community
Establishing relationships with local businesses and community organizations is a great way to drive new patient relationships—especially for services which will drive reciprocal volume to your clinic throughout the year. Consider spreading the word in your local community that you’re available to provide services such as:
- Vaccines for students who are heading to school or college in the fall
- Physicals for children attending summer camp and sports leagues
- Wellness exams and screenings for local businesses
- Health education at wellness fairs and community festivals
- Occupational health services such as DOT physicals, workers compensation exams, and drug screenings
Not only will this help drum up business during a slower time of year, it also connects you with patients who may need your services for acute and non-acute care in the fall and beyond.
3. Optimize your Online Presence
Though easily overlooked, your online presence is important for enabling faster access to care, facilitating patient acquisition, and improving the patient experience. As you optimize, you’ll want to consider everything from your website to your social media marketing.
Website: An optimized website can be a major competitive advantage, particularly mobile websites. Think about investing in online scheduling and digital registration tools, which offer a seamless workflow for staff and patients. Here are two strategies to keep in mind:
- Make it easy for people to book online, including same-day and next-day availability. Online scheduling improves the patient experience and helps attract new patients to both your website and clinic.
- Offer digital check-ins, so people can complete registration and other aspects of the check-in process before stepping foot in your clinic. This improves efficiency and satisfaction among staff and patients.
Social media marketing: You might also consider drumming up a summer social media campaign. This is a great way to create brand awareness and position your clinic as the right choice for new patients long before they become sick or injured.
- With Facebook/Instagram Ads, for example, you can target your prime demographic, helping you drive brand awareness among prospective patients.
- With Google ads, you can use carefully targeted keywords to get your ads in front of potential customers based on their Google search history.
- With Solv Connect, you can target high-intent patients who are looking for same day care in their area. Typically, these patients are more likely to rebook with you and leave reviews.
4. Expand Services or Clinics
Summer is an opportune time to launch new services or open new clinics. By expanding when business is slower than usual, you’ll have the chance to work out any possible friction that arises without the added pressure of a high-volume patient load.
One option is to offer primary care services like vaccinations, preventive screenings, medication management, and travel medicine consults. These are in high demand among prospective patients and offer a way to diversify your revenue, increase the lifetime value of your existing patients, and acquire new patients.
If you’re thinking about expanding into primary care:
- Survey your patients to assess their appetite for additional services. You can use any data you glean to decide which service offerings you may want to invest in.
- Take a close look at your insurance contracts. If you’re set up for place of service 11 (office visit), you can begin to offer and bill primary care services to insured patients immediately If you are under place of service 20 (urgent care), you’ll need additional contracting to include primary care services. Advise with a contracting specialist or attorney who is familiar with the payors in your area if you are unsure and need counsel on how to obtain additional contracts.
- Create a financial model for the services you want to offer to give you an idea of the true cost and forecasted profits of offering primary care services.
5. Track your Clinic’s Results
Keeping a pulse on business metrics offers important insights that will help you effectively operate your urgent care clinic and create better patient experiences. Consider using operational dashboards to evaluate important information like your clinic’s hourly patient density and traffic patterns. If you notice that you’re consistently seeing extremely low patient volumes at certain times of day, you might consider shortening your business hours during this slower summer season.
You’ll also want to keep an eye on metrics like patient wait time and door-to-door time, which can help you better understand the patient experience and how patients access care and other services at your urgent care clinic. Equally important is measuring the return on investment of your marketing efforts so you can see which advertising and marketing strategies best support patient acquisition.
Even if summer is off to a slow start at your urgent care clinic, there’s plenty you can do to increase patient volume, grow your revenue, and adapt your business to meet evolving patient needs. With seasonality in mind, a holistic approach to patient acquisition might include gaining a thorough understanding of your summer patient landscape, engaging with your local community, optimizing your online presence, expanding your services, and tracking important metrics like marketing ROI and patient density.
Solv can help attract more patients to your clinic, bolster your digital offerings, maximize efficiency, and gather important insights about your clinic’s operations. Learn more.