On November 7, 2019, PatientBond hosted its first conference dedicated to urgent care titled, Healthcare Consumerism and Urgent Care: An Executive Roundtable. More than twenty executives from leading urgent care companies met to discuss healthcare consumerism and the future of urgent care.
Several participants provided their thoughts and impressions of the event, and their interviews can be viewed throughout the blog below:
- Hunter Davis, President, PromptMed Urgent Care
- Stephanie Berger, Marketing Program Lead, Physicians Immediate Care
- Milap Shah, CEO, Midwest Express Clinic
- Jill Chait, SVP of Operations, FastMed Urgent Care
PatientBond Customer Panel
A panel of industry executives was convened to get their perspective on a variety of topics, including the evolving healthcare landscape and trends, the role of virtual care and retail clinics, and the use of consumer segmentation for marketing purposes. Panel participants included:
- Andrea Knowles-Skowvron, Senior Director, Clinical Operations, WellNow Urgent Care
- Manoj Kumar, CEO, Hometown Urgent Care
- Bill Miller, CEO and Co-Founder, CRH Healthcare
- Ken Riley, Director, Patient and Population Health Technologies, Baystate Health
- Amrita Sahasrabudhe, Vice President of Marketing, FastMed Urgent Care
- Todd Vang, COO, Physicians Immediate Care
A common theme of the discussion was the importance of digital technology and automation to running an urgent care operation successfully. Millennials are a critical target for urgent care centers, but they are accustomed to fast service, having a wealth of information at their fingertips and digital transactions. As one panelist noted, “Millennials see a sheet of paper and roll their eyes.” Urgent care is particularly suited to meeting Millennials’ need for speed and convenience, but price transparency must also be part of the service package to meet Millennials’ expectations.
Millennials are not the only important target, however. One panelist pointed to an aging population and stressed the need to develop and sustain good relationships with these patients. This can be challenging due to the acute and episodic nature of urgent care, but digital outreach can maintain this connection when the patients are not visiting the practice. Another panelist stated that this is no longer a “nice to have” but a necessary offering, as patient engagement tools are now expected. Moreover, a “one size fits all” approach will not work across a patient population. Personalization is important, as patients want providers to know how they want to be spoken to and how to best reach them.
The panel was divided on whether telehealth was a threat to urgent care. While several panelists acknowledged that telehealth could eat into Brick & Mortar traffic, others felt telehealth was better positioned as a supplemental offering to round out urgent care services. Retail clinics (e.g., CVS Minute Clinic, Walmart Care Clinic) are another source of competition, but it was pointed out that these outlets were focusing more on primary care and chronic disease management, and even venturing into dental services in Walmart’s case. Still, it is important to remain vigilant and monitor and address these trends to remain competitive.
Hunter Davis, President of PromptMed Urgent Care discusses his key takeaways from PatientBond's Healthcare Consumerism and Urgent Care Executive Roundtable.
Patient Acquisition & Loyalty
Dr. Troy Dinkel, Chief Operating Officer of Total Access Urgent Care (TAUC), led a participant discussion on patient acquisition and loyalty. Advertising and referrals were primary drivers for new patient traffic. This underscored the importance of social media and patient ratings and reviews. Service improvement was a key driver for patient loyalty and repeat visits. Dr. Dinkel shared how he found ways to improve processes at TAUC to enhance the patient experience, whether it was by listening to how staff answered phone calls and standardizing their approach, or by eliminating inefficiencies so that patients are not spending time in the waiting room.
Throughout the discussion, Dr Dinkel outlined key elements of delivering a superior patient experience:
- Do a good job and take pride in your work
- Hustle and keep processes flowing
- Be kind to patients and colleagues
- Be thorough and keep an eye on details
Jill Chait, SVP of Operations with FastMed Urgent Care, discusses her key takeaways from PatientBond's Healthcare Consumerism and Urgent Care Executive Roundtable
Increase Cash Flow, Decrease Bad Debt and Statement Costs
Jerry Creech, Vice President of Revenue Services for an urgent care company with more than 100 locations, spoke on his efforts to increase cash flow from patient payments. By automating his patient self-pay process and using digital outreach, he was able to increase the speed and amount of cash flow. Jerry also used this approach to tackle bad debt (balances 120+ days overdue) and was successful in these collections.
In addition to increased revenue, Jerry experienced significant cost savings. He sent digital communications (e.g., text message/SMS) regarding payment due while suppressing the first paper statement to see what percentage of patients would pay before having to pay for printing and postage. A remarkable 24% of patients paid via digital channels before a paper statement was issued, representing substantial cost savings and a help to the bottom line.
Healthcare Consumer Insights
Brent Walker, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Analytics for PatientBond, made a presentation on the national market research among healthcare consumers that PatientBond conducts to inform its patient communications and digital workflows. Central to this research is PatientBond’s psychographic segmentation model, which identifies patients according to their attitudes, personalities, motivations and communication preferences. This allows PatientBond to personalize messaging that resonates with each patient and enhances the likelihood of activating desired behaviors.
This can help an urgent care center drive patient acquisition and loyalty and even drive an increase in patient self-pay collections. In fact, PatienBond’s research has shown that one patient type, or psychographic segment known as the Willful Endurer, represents 67% of frequent urgent care utilizers and are the most likely to avoid paying their balance. Knowing how to effectively engage this patient type is key to a successful urgent care business, but this requires a unique combination of word choice in messaging and digital channel mix.
Milap Shah, CEO of MidWest Express Clinic, discusses his key takeaways from PatientBond's Healthcare Consumerism and Urgent Care Executive Roundtable.
The Evolving Healthcare Landscape
Jon Phillips, Chairman of PatientBond and Managing Director of First Trust Capital Partners, discussed trends in the healthcare space and urgent care market, specifically, from an investor’s standpoint. Jon outlined how healthcare expenditures continued to grow significantly faster than GDP, but that significant waste and non-value added activity represented as much as 25% of total spend. Labor productivity in healthcare is also growing at a substantially lower rate than the economy as a whole.
The integration of technology and new delivery models are critical in managing healthcare spending growth. Seventy-one percent of providers are expanding investment in technology (e.g., telehealth, AI, analytics) and patient experience, including convenience, follow-up and payment optimization. Jon underscored urgent care’s role as a critical component of the healthcare delivery system, efficiently providing care and improving access while reducing costs.
Stephanie Berger, Marketing Program Lead with Physicians Immediate Care, answers the question of "What can Urgent Care do different to thrive in this environment?"
To keep ahead of the evolving healthcare landscape, PatientBond continues to develop capabilities and anticipate healthcare consumer and urgent care needs. Dave Floyd, Chief Technology Officer of PatientBond, gave a presentation on the litany of new capabilities under development. Online scheduling, credit balance prompts for additional services and psychographic segmented content management are just some of the new features being deployed. Of particular interest was PatientBond’s approach toward the incorporation of Artificial Intelligence to optimize message personalization and digital workflows to maximize the effectiveness of the platform.
PatientBond is a HIPAA compliant AWS platform. Cloud-based, API driven and a managed service, there is no software to purchase or training required. PatientBond automates digital workflows with patient response links for a chain of two-way communications tailored to each patient’s psychographic profile. PatientBond can integrate with most Electronic Medical Records, practice management or CRM systems as a “bolt-on” to enhance and amplify performance, or act as a stand-alone platform.