You've likely heard the question: Is this ER-worthy, or should I just head to urgent care? In many cases, patients must make a judgment call they are ill-equipped to make and often end up in the ER anyway. But when health systems partner with urgent care, they provide the opportunity to capture patients from the beginning of their health life cycle and retain them for significant lifetime value (LTV).
Why Urgent Care and Health Systems Should Work Together
While health systems usually focus on emergency care, failing to offer urgent care creates roadblocks to the care their potential patients need. Patients may have to travel to multiple places to find the right level of care.
Same-day care is also difficult to find for patients of a health system. As a result, patients may choose the ER for low acuity situations without an urgent care option, driving up wait times for more emergent needs. According to the Urgent Care Association, ER visits decrease by 17.2% when an urgent care is nearby.
After a few long wait times and expensive ER bills, health system patients may start looking elsewhere for acute care. That leakage can financially harm the health system, especially over the patient's lifetime. However, if health systems have an urgent care option, the patient's first exposure to urgent care can be their entry into a health system that can attend to all their needs.
The potential gains of health system urgent care partnerships are undeniable.
Here are the key ways health systems can turn an urgent care visit into a lifetime win—
Same Day Care, Long Term Loyalty
Health systems can start their journey to success by identifying who is looking for same-day care. According to Solv's data, the typical person making urgent care decisions is:
- A female
- Aged 25-45 years old
- Often has children
- Visits urgent care frequently for health needs
Regarding profitability, the typical urgent care patient is ideal–they are decision-makers in the home, have children, and likely have frequent needs such as school physicals, infection testing, vaccinations, common illnesses, and the expected lacerations or fractures.
Health systems without urgent care stand to lose income from other low-acuity services–those mothers will likely take their children to the lower-cost option for minor lacerations, sprains, and viruses.
Improve ER Outcomes
Although some health systems may see urgent care as competition, urgent care can be a part of your sales funnel with the right partnership. Patients who come in with a more severe injury or infection can be directly funneled into the ER. Likewise, lower acuity issues can be triaged to nearby urgent cares, saving hospital staff time and load balancing for ERs and urgent cares.
Load balancing removes the pressure off staff and increases patient satisfaction by reducing ER and urgent care wait times. Patients who go to the ER first will additionally find added cost savings when reassigned to lower-cost urgent care. Patients want to feel they are being treated in a manner that's appropriate for their condition. If they feel that their providers are willing to send them to a lower-cost option, it builds trust in the system as a whole.
Increase Lifetime Value
When a patient comes to an urgent care, they may expect to spend anywhere from $50-$1800, but if leveraged correctly, their lifetime value can be exponentially more valuable. If that patient goes to an urgent care aligned with a health system that can serve all her healthcare needs, her lifetime value increases to $250,000.
According to the Becker Hospital CFO report for 2022, many hospital systems are bleeding money, reversing from net profits in 2021 to billions in net losses in 2022. Over 20 health systems reported huge yearly losses from 2021 to 2022, citing increased expenses and investment losses as their stumbling block.
One way to reverse these profit losses is to invest in on-demand care. According to a report by Grand View Research, urgent care centers were valued at $56.7 billion in 2022, with an expected growth rate of 10.99% from now until 2030. Shorter wait times, more straightforward procedures, and adopting timesaving technology like telehealth mean faster turnaround times and increased profits.
- Health systems can connect with net-new patients earlier on through urgent cares
- Average urgent care patients are high LTV patients
- Urgent care supports triage and load balancing for hospital systems
Finding a Partnership that Works
Once health systems partner with urgent care, whether that’s through a direct or joint venture partnership, or develop their own branch of urgent care, Solv Connect can help drive loyal patients from the first moment their book to the time they leave your clinic. Plus, with HIPAA-compliant encryption, user data is completely secure.
Solv is an adaptable partner that will help streamline operations with an API that connects your EHR between all your digital properties. We improve the digital and in-person experience of your patients and increase overall patient access.
Ready to learn more? Let us show how Solv can make a difference in patient volumes and access.