The American healthcare landscape is in the middle of a slow but steady transition. Significant changes started roughly ten years ago with the passing of the Affordable Care Act. Then the pandemic happened, driving more overdue changes to the American healthcare system.
One of the most apparent changes to American healthcare in recent years is the uptick in urgent care centers found in cities and towns across the country. These facilities serve as a practical alternative to going to the emergency room for relatively minor aches and pains. As such, they reduce the burden on nearby ERs.
It doesn’t take an entrepreneur whiz to see the potential of opening urgent care centers in places that lack such facilities. With this in mind, let’s take a look at several essentials for launching a successful urgent care center:
Proper license and credentials
The first step to opening an urgent care center is to determine what’s required by law. Some states require the owner to be a licensed physician, while others may require you to obtain a specific operating license. Once you’ve determined the legal hurdles, the next step involves checking with major insurance companies to learn what is required in order to be credentialed. This means having a contractual relationship with the insurance company that guarantees patients can use their policies to cover treatment costs.
The ideal location for an urgent care center is in a densely populated area near one or more major roads and freeways. Those looking to open an urgent care center should scout the vicinity for an available property that meets this criterion. If there is none available, slowly work outward from the best spots until you find suitable alternatives. In order to save on startup costs, consider focusing on properties with an existing structure that makes for an ideal urgent care facility.
Safe and secure payment processing
Even with insurance, most patients will be charged out-of-pocket for their visit. With so many transactions occurring, it’s essential for urgent care centers to have a safe and secure payment processing system. What’s more, you’ll need a reliable medical billing and coding service. The entire apparatus should be streamlined in such a way that patients are able to enter the exam room within 30 minutes after their arrival.
Physicians with experience
It goes without saying but we’re going to say it anyway: your urgent care center needs at least one physician with many years of medical experience under their belt. This individual will provide invaluable insights as well as top-flight care to patients. While other physicians on the payroll can be relatively inexperienced, it’s essential for your urgent care center to have a lead doctor several years beyond his or her residency phase.
RNs with CENs
Registered nurses are the lifeblood of any medical facility. Urgent care centers are no exception. We recommended finding at least one RN with a certificate in emergency nursing, or CEN for short. While it might sound unnecessary for an urgent care setting, emergency nursing experience enables your staff to assess patients more accurately upon arrival. In doing so, they’re able to determine whether or not a patient requires ER-level care.
You’ll need more than doctors and nurses to keep your urgent care center running efficiently. Receptionists, nurse aides, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, and custodial staff are just some of the auxiliary forces you’ll want to employ. These professionals should be qualified and properly licensed.
Every new business needs an upfront marketing investment to spread the word. Urgent care centers are no exception. As a result, the last piece of the puzzle involves the utilization of digital marketing services and other avenues of advertising. Copywriters, web designers, and similar professionals should be recruited to help develop the kind of digital content required to sufficiently inform the local population that a new urgent care center is now open for business.
The increase in urgent care centers across the United States is no coincidence. It’s a result of a redrawing of the country’s healthcare map. And growing demand for urgent care means equally mounting opportunities for entrepreneurs interested in getting into the healthcare industry.
Julie Steinbeck is a freelance writer from Florida. She enjoys writing about business, finance, health, and travel.