According to the Urgent Care Association, 300-600 new urgent care clinics are opened annually. Dr. Lawrence Earl, a leading expert on urgent care management and a highly regarded mentor in this fast-growing field, has gathered facts and figures to help guide individuals considering opening an urgent care center. Below are a few questions to consider before starting an urgent care.
- Where should I open an urgent care?
When opening an urgent care, choosing the right location is critical. The key is to become a well-known center, similar to a trusted supermarket or big box store, so potential patients will already know where it’s located when they need rapid services. Avoid office buildings and look to open in shopping centers or stand-alone facilities that are easily recognizable from potential patients in the area. Placing your urgent care in a heavily populated commercial shopping center has its perks but also comes with challenges. While a heavily populated area will get you noticed and have plenty of patients to be seen, there is the possibility of encountering competition with other urgent care centers.
When selecting a site for an urgent care, you must also consider the size and capacity of the building. Depending on the size of the community you are planning to serve, you will need to gauge how many patients you plan to see a day and decide from there. Having 5-7 exam and treatment rooms is ideal. Typical urgent cares see about 17,000 visits annually, which equals around 47-50 patients per day. If you are in a less populated area, those numbers are expected to be lower.
- How do I plan for adequate staffing?
Staffing your urgent care can be a considerable expense, be sure not to overstaff, especially when you’re first opening. It is necessary to have a physician, physician assistant (PA), or nurse practitioner (NP) administer care when doors open. Something to consider is hiring educated, willing, and able to perform multiple job roles like a medical assistant or CNA who can assist in front office duties while also assessing and collecting patient information before seeing the physician. A ratio is often helpful in determining the optimal initial staffing mix. It’s realistic for providers to manage three and a half patient visits per hour with some variance depending on the services offered at the center. To learn more about staffing ratios, download the eBook below.
- When and what should I consider during the selection of an EMR solution?
Technology can be an issue in many urgent care centers, so choosing the right technology can help lead to a successful practice. There is a limited selection of urgent care based PM and EMR systems on the market, but it’s essential to select a system specifically designed to suit the needs of a fast-paced, urgent care. Not all systems are created equal; researching, demoing, and reviewing a few EMR solutions will help you compare apples to apples and decide the best option for your practice. An urgent care based solution allows you to optimize workflow and increase profitability while focusing on patient care. You should begin your research process shortly after signing a lease to allow ample time for insurance credentialing, customizations, and training, all of which UrgiChart can help with!
In the end, opt for the solution that meets workflow and financial needs from a company that positions itself as a partner offering dedicated onboarding, training, and support to ensure long-term adoption and successful outcomes.
- When should I start the contracting and credentialing process?
Getting credentialled can ensure that your records and payments are in effect on the go-live date. It can take four to six months to complete payor contracting and credentialing. In many ways, determining your EMR solution can aid in contracting and credentialing through payers. When an EMR is purchased, some software company’s will include insurance credentialing; contact us today to see how UrgiChart can help credential your new urgent care practice.
- How much will it cost?
Take into account the start-up fees and funding for your urgent care clinic. The cost of opening and operating an urgent care facility fluctuates greatly depending on many variables. These variables include location, demographics, local and state laws, cost of equipment, and staff rates. Capital is needed in every business so, if you do not have readily available funds, consider taking a business loan from your bank or looking for other investors.
While the Urgent Care Industry has seen a considerable boom these last few years, creating a thriving urgent care center is a genuine possibility with the proper planning and mindset. Urgent care centers have become increasingly appealing as an alternative or complement to traditional medicine, but it is also crucial to understand the requirements before engaging. Each factor discussed here is equally necessary, and all contribute to the center’s success. To learn more about the above, download our “How to Start an Urgent Care eBook” below.