Patients view urgent care clinics as lifelines that fill the gap between primary care and the emergency room. At no other time is this perception more deeply challenged than on holidays. If you are not meeting patient expectations by opening on major holidays, such as Fourth of July or Thanksgiving, is your operation competitive? Because the ability to remain competitive within the community is fundamental to remaining financially secure, let’s take a look at the four profit-influencing factors.
4 Consideration for Staying Open for Holidays
During the holidays, emergent medical needs are met through the ER or at an open urgent care facility. Patient care options are generally fewer at a time when patient demand is often much greater due mainly to changes in people’s behaviors and activities. Holiday injuries and illnesses commonly occur due to overconsumption, cooking and auto accidents, decorating incidents and other variants of celebrating. Your strategy is to assess anticipated patient demand and correlate it to profitability using a financial plan that provides the basis for holiday openings.
Not all providers and urgent care staff are willing to sacrifice time off to be accessible during major holidays. To maintain staff morale while keeping an eye on your bottom line, a rotating holiday schedule is needed to reduce the chance of having the same clinicians and staff work on multiple holidays. After assessing your expected demand and your available staff, it is possible to determine your clinic’s holiday hours.
Position your clinic as the community’s go-to medical provider during holidays and strengthen your brand significantly. Opening your doors during major holidays increases your prospects to earn over a period of time. Even if your operation loses money on the first holiday opening, this moment should be viewed as an investment in your brand—“always open, and always available to serve,” which can prove beneficial in the long run.
Staffing costs is one of the greatest obstacles for urgent care owners to keep a clinic open during the holidays. Requesting payers to compensate for extended holiday hours using specific codes is one way to defray staffing costs. Payers realize considerable savings when patients choose an urgent care center for treatment over what they would have to pay for a comparable ER visit. Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes such as 99050 and 99051 are practical add-on codes that medical practices can use to bill payers to help recover the additional costs of opening in extended hours.
The decision to offer holiday urgent care is based on a strategic marketing plan to remain viable in a competitive consumer market.
Ideally, an urgent care center remains open throughout the day, seven days a week, reinforcing the image that emergent care does not take a holiday, and is both convenient and accessible even when primary care is unavailable.