If you are interested in opening an urgent care business, you are not alone. Growth in the industry is skyrocketing. According to the Urgent Care Association, there were nearly 10,000 centers in the United States by the end of last year — a 9.6 percent jump from the previous year.
Studies show a significant shift away from primary care and emergency rooms as patients seek more affordable and accessible medical care. Many patients are turning to urgent care as an alternative. Urgent care offers what other medical options don’t:
- Shorter wait times
- After-hours care
- Open on weekends
- Cost-effective healthcare services
Because medical services are always in demand, an urgent care center is a fairly stable and viable business venture. One fact that is surprising to some; you don’t need a medical background to own urgent care.
Here are some basic steps to start a successful urgent care business.
Create a Business Plan
A business plan should be one of the first steps before starting any business. The business plan describes all aspects of your urgent care center, including an overview of the business, services provided, marketing strategy, management structure, as well as financial projections. The business plan serves as a blueprint for helping you effectively build your business and manage risk along the way.
You will need to contact your state licensing board to determine what licenses an urgent care center needs to operate in your area. It can take several months to get certain licenses, so you should take this into consideration when considering an opening date.
You will need to have a contract agreement with insurance companies so your patients can use their insurance at your urgent care center. You will need to research what the major insurance companies are in your area and reach out to them to find out what they require to become credentialed.
Select a Site
Analyze demographics and market conditions in the community where you plan to open your urgent care. Select a location near your target patient population, then design your clinic to best serve them.
Commercial retail centers, where consumers shop or do errands, are optimal, high-visibility locations for an urgent care center.
Design and Layout
Choose a space that fits but doesn’t exceed your clinic’s space requirements. This will avoid start-up cost overruns and lost profits. The build-out of the space should be designed to reduce clutter, maximize patient flow, and minimize the distance staff and physicians must travel between exam rooms.
Patient comfort and convenience should also be taken into consideration, so opt for an environment that is warm, welcoming, and less clinical. Include amenities for enhancing the patient experience, such as flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, and accessible electrical outlets.
Branding and Marketing
You’ll need to come up with a great name and logo for your business to make it stand out and be memorable. Your brand gives potential patients quick insight into your benefits, perceived value, and quality of care even before they walk through the door.
Print brochures, fliers, and posters advertising your services. List the hours of operation, services currently available, and a list of insurers accepted. Advertise in local daily or weekly publications as well as the internet. Send information about the clinic to schools, senior centers, housing complexes, colleges, and recreation centers, to name a few. Display information in bus stations, malls, libraries, gyms, and any other places potential patients may congregate.
A website for your urgent care business, with your contact information and a list of services, is also advisable. Social media, such as a Facebook page is a great way to begin spreading your reach.
Choosing the right people is crucial to the success of your urgent care center. Your staff will be a direct reflection of your clinic. While patient care providers will be at the forefront of your staffing decisions, it is important to be smart about hiring support staff. You’ll want to make sure your clinic not only provides great medical care but an amazing patient experience, too. You also need to choose an experienced office manager who will help maintain the smooth operation and compliance of your urgent care clinic.
These are only a few of the many considerations you need to make when launching an urgent care center. Investing in an urgent care franchise should be another consideration. Rather than figure out all of those basic steps outlined above (plus the dozen or so others we didn’t mention), an urgent care franchise, such as American Family Care (AFC), is a fantastic option.
AFC can have you set up and in business more quickly and efficiently, along with guidance and support you won’t get by going it alone. To learn more about owning an American Family Care Franchise, click here.