Demand for urgent care clinics continues to show very strong growth. In fact, urgent care centers saw a growth of 1,725% from 2007 to 2016—7x the growth of emergency rooms in the same period. Search volume for the term “urgent care near me” has exploded in the past 5 years.
Convenience, flexible hours, easy scheduling, and short wait times are among the top reasons why more patients choose an urgent care clinic. Of these new patients, millennials are the biggest segment—and they expect a modern, consumer-friendly experience.
So how can you position your clinic to succeed in 2022? Here are 5 urgent care mistakes to avoid in 2022.
Mistake #1: Ignoring Bad Reviews
With the proliferation of sites like Yelp and Google, reviews are more important than ever. And it’s natural that not all of your reviews will be positive ones, even with your best efforts. But simply ignoring those reviews would be a big mistake.
What leads to bad reviews? Some of the top reasons for bad reviews of urgent cares and EDs are:
- Poor communication
- Long waits
- Billing issues
- A negative experience at reception
And some of the biggest reasons for positive reviews are:
- Good bedside manner
- Ease of access
- Speed of care
- Quality of service
When a negative review comes in, make sure you take the time to respond thoughtfully to the review and move the conversation offline. But what happens next?
Reviews are an opportunity to adjust. Inform your staff of both the positive and negative comments. Look for opportunities to genuinely improve the experience of our patients. And if you want to go the extra mile, try looking at the negative reviews of competitors, too. That will give you even more ideas of what you can do to improve.
Mistake #2: Not encouraging Loyalty
What can your clinic do to make sure that patients return the next time they need care? Even better, what can you do to make sure patients recommend your clinic to their friends and family?
Loyal patients can mean a lot to the health of your clinic. First, identify what your patients really care about. You can do this by reviewing those negative reviews we talked about in Mistake #1. Don’t forget to look at the reviews of other clinics, too.
You’ll notice that things like wait time and speed of care come up frequently, but it’s not just about the doctor. Patients want an overall positive experience, including the waiting area and their interaction with receptionists and other staff.
Are your patients getting the attention, care, and warmth they need? Make sure your staff is happy, positive, and well-motivated. It’s an investment that will pay off for your clinic.
Waiting is the biggest cause of patient dissatisfaction, so do everything you can to address that issue. It can be hugely challenging because of the variation in patient flow.
When you give your patients a great experience, they’ll refer their friends and family and leave you positive reviews. You’ll win their loyalty.
Mistake #3: Not Making It Easy to Find You
This is extremely important, and it’s also part of the long-term planning of your business. Is your website optimized for patients? Make sure that you’ve set up your Google My Business account so your clinic shows up on Google Maps. And make it easy to instantly book online.
Next, check to make sure that your clinic is included in all the listing sites, and make sure that those listings have accurate information. You can use our free tool here to check your business listings on 50+ sites in one go.
The physical location of your clinic matters. Is your sign visible from the road? Is it easy to park? Are you in an area with enough traffic to make the clinic financially viable? The Medical Economics Journal found that a clinic needs at least 30,000 people within a five-mile radius to be successful.
Even if you can’t solve these problems immediately, identify where your clinic stands so you can build them into your long-term plans.
Mistake #4: Not Managing Patient Flow Effectively
The seasonal nature of urgent care clinics can make patient flow a challenge. The cold and flu season is normally the biggest peak, but back-to-school can also be very busy. How do you manage no-shows and overbooking? Your staff has to operate as efficiently as possible. It’s vital to prevent long wait times.
To deal with no-shows, consider overbooking slightly and reducing the intervals between appointments. You should call and text patients the day before to confirm their appointments. And a small no-show fee can help encourage patients to communicate.
Encourage virtual appointments where possible. Patients are less likely to no-show if you make it easy for them to attend.
To reduce wait times, even with overbooking, try to convert walk-ins to call before they come in. This will allow you to schedule them instead, so they don’t have to spend a lot of time in your waiting room.
Mistake #5: Not Doing Everything You Can to Make The Experience More Convenient
Building on everything we’ve discussed, convenience is key for a successful urgent care clinic. Your patients demand it.
We already mentioned virtual appointments. Do you offer telemedicine and video appointments for patients? Especially after-hours (where your staff can also be at home).
Is it as easy as possible to book online, and then to get in touch with your clinic for follow-up questions and concerns?
Even your business hours can make your clinic more convenient. If you primarily serve young professionals, do you offer them the chance to come in before work? If your clinic is in a bedroom commuter community, make sure that you’re open later—it’s likely that not many people are around during the day.
As you plan how to ensure success for your clinic this year, make sure that you don’t ignore bad reviews, but instead find ways to use them to improve your quality of service.
It’s vital that you do everything you can to encourage patient loyalty, including reducing wait times and creating a positive environment for staff and patients. Finding your clinic should be as easy as possible, both online and in-person. Check your clinic listings across the internet for accuracy, and make sure that your clinic sign is easily visible from the road. Manage patient flow by reducing no-shows and pushing walk-ins to call-ins to reduce wait time.
Finally, take a look at your clinic as a whole. Are you doing everything you can to make the experience convenient for your patients? Offer telemedicine and video appointments. Make it easy to book online. And ensure that your hours match your community needs.
As long as you avoid these 5 mistakes, this year should be a great year for you and your urgent care clinic!