3 Simple Tips for Increasing Efficiency in an Urgent Care

Urgent care centers are becoming the healthcare facility of choice for many patients across the US seeking quick efficient care at a lower cost. In comparison to emergency departments, their quality care and effectiveness has attracted both patients and investors alike.

Today, there are approximately 9300 walk-in urgent care centers in the United States, and more than 300 new clinics opening every year. In addition, retail clinics have rapidly entered the marketplace and are expanding into retail chains, pharmacies, big-box stores and grocery stores. CVS minute clinics operate more than 1600 clinics across the country and other retailers such as Walmart, Target and Kroger’s are also offering similar services.

With so many options available, it is important to be as efficient as possible or patients will go elsewhere. This means lower wait-times, friendly and flexible staff, and the utilization of technology to improve efficiency. These three areas can help urgent care clinics increase efficiency and ensure that patients receive a positive experience:

  1. Online scheduling and pre-registration - Technological advancements such as online scheduling and pre-registration have streamlined the process of booking appointments and managing paperwork. Urgent Care Centers can increase efficiency and reduce wait times by having patients pre-register and fill out paperwork online by utilizing a computer or an iPad in the waiting room.
  2. Electronic Medical Records - having a good electronic medical record (EMR) will also help to increase efficiency and reduce patient wait times. EMR improves documentation with protocols and reminders. It also helps to standardize charts by reducing issues from poor handwriting or inconsistencies. It decreases labor and cost involved with managing paper charts. Electronic medical records decrease coding errors and improve billing by using built in alerts and fields which help to eliminate errors and improve turn-around time for reimbursement. The ability to e-prescribe provides a convenience to the patient and minimizes common inefficiencies experienced between office and pharmacy.
  3. Efficient, well-trained, and flexible staff - Having an efficient and capable staff will also increase an urgent care’s efficiency. Cross-training staff effectively in all practice related areas is a key factor to being more efficient. All staff members should be familiar with and understand administrative features, including being trained on the EMR system. This allows more flexibility if one employee is sick or suddenly quits without notice. Also, utilizing mid-level providers such as physician assistants or nurse practioners is a very efficient practice because they are cost-effective and generally function very well in an urgent care setting.