Compete with Urgent Care with Online Self-Scheduling

According to Consumer Reports, the number of urgent care facilities grew from 6,400 in 2014 to 8,100 in 2018, with another 500-600 expected to open in 2019 alone. The popularity of urgent care clinics, driven mainly by patients’ needs for simple, convenient access to healthcare, is putting provider organizations in a tough spot financially while also forcing them into a new competition for business. We’re starting to learn, though, that providers can compete with this rise of urgent care facilities in more ways than simply building their own urgent care facilities. That is, they can compete by providing online self-scheduling for patients into their already existing locations, offering same and next day appointments.

By making same and next-day appointments available to patients through online self-scheduling, provider organizations can offer patients urgent care-like services for time-sensitive needs without having to invest or divert funds to build out their own urgent care centers.

Moreover, the availability to connect patients with quick, convenient care supports higher patient retention, making it possible for provider organizations to compete with others who have created urgent care centers. The lure of urgent care is its perceived convenience – walk-ins, same-day appointments, more flexible hours – but provider organizations can easily offer the same level of convenience to their patients with online self-scheduling. There is much less of a need to seek out other options for care when the provider you are most familiar with can also see you that same day.

In addition to building a better patient-provider relationship, keeping patients in-house for urgent care needs also fosters better care coordination. With medical history readily available, providers can more quickly and accurately treat an individual.

Another major benefit of offering same and next-day appointments is that it more fully utilizes physician capacity, which is often riddled with holes due to patient no-shows. In our work we’ve learned that many practices think they are at capacity and yet, often only 70% of appointments are actually completed. Those open slots can be readily filled by patients seeking urgent care or those with timelier health needs.

While millennials’ have largely been credited for the growing demand of urgent care centers, they’re not the only group looking for convenient access to care. The ability to schedule and access care in a timely and convenient manner is something everyone wants today – older adults, parents of younger children, and more. A failure to meet these individuals with the digital conveniences they’ve become accustomed to in so many other parts of their lives will only push them to new competitors that are in fact providing this experience. With the right technology, timely care is one of the simplest, yet most sought-after conveniences that healthcare groups can provide.

To learn more about how one of the nation’s largest health systems transformed patient access across their enterprise with digital care coordination – including same and next day online appointment scheduling – download our whitepaper case study: Transforming Patient Access with Digital Care Coordination.