Urgent Care Centers continue to rise in popularity, reflecting the changing healthcare landscape and the population’s need for on-demand care. They fill a vital role for many patients: timely care when most primary care physicians aren’t available — on evenings and weekends.
It’s no surprise that patients — especially younger generations — are utilizing urgent care centers for their healthcare and not only during episodic medical events. Urgent care centers thrive on repeat patient visits, making patient engagement and patient loyalty essential for a successful business outcome.
So how can centers drive patient loyalty? According to the Urgent Care Association of America, they should invest significantly in marketing, facilities, systems, and culture to create an outstanding patient experience.
Technically there are a myriad possibilities for cultivating patient loyalty, and we will narrow in on a few key factors.
Quality of Care
Quality of care should be at the forefront of every medical experience. The Urgent Care Association of America recommends that centers begin centrally, by helping all staff members to have the same outlook and principles to provide quality care for patients.
For example, most centers begin the day with a team “huddle” — a short meeting to recap, assign duties and address any pressing issues. Those huddles are an opportune time to discuss daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly goals.
Following the line of quality care, urgent care centers are now focused on the patient’s total health, much like a primary care physician. Centers concentrate on preventative care and the diagnosis and management of chronic conditions like diabetes, hypertension and COPD.
What is most important to patients? The top answers are: close location, convenient hours, a clean and welcoming center, timely care, and great customer service.
An urgent care center that can tick all of those boxes will become an epicenter for satisfied patients, return visits and referrals.
Patients who visit urgent care centers are looking for quick, efficient care. The UCAOA reports that 90 percent of patients will wait 30 minutes or less to see a provider, and 84 percent are finished with their visit in 60 minutes or less.
Compared to the multi-hour wait time for emergency departments or the often multiple-day wait to get a primary care appointment, the immediate availability of care at urgent care centers gives patients significant convenience.
How can urgent care centers differentiate themselves from other centers and the competition at large? Communication between patient and provider has shown higher patient satisfaction and better health outcomes for those patients, yet the standard protocol — a follow-up call 24-48 hours after the appointment — is incredibly labor-intensive for staff. That’s where an automated communication system such as PatientBond comes into play.
PatientBond is a patient behavior change technology, a full-service, cloud-based platform offering digital healthcare consumer engagement solutions. PatientBond’s highly configurable platform enables communications workflows to be developed and deployed in a very short period of time to address specific engagement needs, including appointment and payment reminders, medication adherence, wellness education, satisfaction surveys and more.
A PatientBond case study focused on one particular group of urgent care centers: Immediate MD. In that particular case, the center chose to use the PatientBond automated system in the following ways:
- A “thank you for your visit” email at 7 a.m. the day after a patient’s appointment, reinforcing its brand messaging (i.e., high quality care in a premier customer service environment).
- A text or phone call 24 hours after the appointment to check whether they are recovering well, or if they have questions or concerns and would like to talk to someone from the nursing staff.
- A survey link via email 48 hours after the patient’s appointment, and a text reminder one day later if they have not completed the survey. The survey included the following questions:
- Was your wait time acceptable?
- Was the facility clean and comfortable?
- Was the check-in process pleasant and efficient?
- How were you treated by our staff?
- How do you rate the quality of care you received from your provider?
Download the PatientBond Case Study to find out how our communications systems provided Immediate MD with the following results:
- A 55-60 percent response rate among patients, triple the rate nurses were able to achieve connecting with patients live by phone;
- Savings of more than $3,000 per month in nurse time alone (factoring out PatientBond costs);
- Achievement of 4.7 on a scale of 5 for the general satisfaction questions and a Net Promoter Score of 80 percent; and
- Significant increases in payment collections from patient payment reminders.