Below is an interview with Daniel Goldberg regarding how to successfully implement an Orthopedic Urgent Care into your practice.

Why does there seem to be a growth in orthopedic urgent care over the last 5 years?

I think this growth is mostly the result of the success and proliferation of general urgent care centers like CityMD, MedExpress and others.  These companies spent millions of dollars changing the perception of urgent care centers from dingy doc-in-a-box offices to modern and clean offices that look nothing like a medical office.  These companies have been so successful that many are partnering with large hospitals and health systems in joint ventures.

Another reason that orthopedic urgent care centers have grown in popularity is that we now have a population that is much more active throughout their adult life.  With this continuing involvement in sports and fitness can come more injuries.  But, this population also has grown accustomed to convenience and quality, which makes orthopedic urgent care a perfect fit for them.  This is not just the “millennial” generation, but those in their 40’s and 50’s who have adapted with technology and the desire for convenience.

How should orthopedic urgent cares position themselves in the market?

The most successful positioning we have seen for orthopedic urgent care is convenience and expertise.  A common misconception is that you are trying to get patients out of the ER and into your facility instead.  General urgent cares have already done that.  Now, just as general urgent care positioned themselves as a better option than the ER, you need to position your facility as a better option than a general urgent care. 

Tying together the idea of being able to come in with no appointment needed and seeing an orthopedic specialist is an important concept because it positions your facility over a general urgent care by highlighting that your facility focuses solely on orthopedics. 

Also, you need to clearly define your capabilities as those with injuries like a rotator cuff or ACL tear may believe that this injury is outside your treatment capabilities and may opt to go to an ER instead.  Too many orthopedic urgent cares focus too heavily on “strains and sprains” and do not convey that they can treat more severe injuries and have on-site imaging and a highly-trained staff to treat these injuries.

Are orthopedic urgent care’s only for sudden injuries?

This is one of the most surprising things we have seen working with orthopedic urgent cares across the country.  What we have seen is that about 40-45% of visits are not for “sudden” injuries.  Instead, those coming in have been in pain for several weeks and have tried to self-manage their injury.  After a few weeks of trying to treat the injury themselves, they realize it is not getting better and want to find out what the injury may be.  But, they don’t want to wait another few days or weeks for an appointment so they go to an orthopedic urgent care instead.  Because of this, the messaging and marketing must consider that these visits are not injuries that happened an hour ago and may be injuries that happened a month ago.

What is something that most orthopedic urgent cares should have but don’t?

Marketing and awareness are everything for orthopedic urgent care.  However, many practices don’t distinguish this entity from their main practice and the sole representation of the facility may be a slide or an icon on their website.  If the only mention of the orthopedic urgent care is on your website, it is not actively generating new patients and simply serving as an ancillary for existing patients.

To be successful, an orthopedic urgent care must have its own identity.  This means a unique name, branding, website, social media pages and marketing campaigns that ties into the larger practice but is also separate from the practice.

The key to marketing your orthopedic urgent care is awareness because nobody needs an orthopedic urgent care – until they need one.  Proper branding, marketing and messaging will insure that you are top of mind when an injury does happen.  

What is a common mistake many orthopedic urgent cares make?

Orthopedic urgent care should not be seen solely as a convenience for existing patients, but more of a vehicle to drive new patient volume into the larger practice.  Properly scheduling follow-ups will allow the orthopedic urgent care to act as a feeder for the larger practice.

As I mentioned, many patients use orthopedic urgent care as a convenience and a tool to have their injury diagnosed and temporarily treated.  The key to driving this volume into the larger practice is to properly triage patients who need follow up consults with a surgeon.

A big mistake many practices make is having a patient undergo an X-Ray, putting them in a sling and then scheduling them a follow up with a surgeon a few weeks later.  These patients need to be prioritized on the doctor’s schedule and be seen within a few days.  If not, that patient (who is probably still in some amount of pain) is going to take that X-Ray or MRI to another practice and be seen by a competitor.  Essentially, what your orthopedic urgent care did was tee up a case for a competing practice by providing imaging and a diagnosis.

Daniel Goldberg is the CEO and Creative Director of Gold Medical Marketing, a firm focused exclusively in Orthopedic, Spine and Neurosurgery Practice Marketing.  Gold Medical Marketing represents orthopedic urgent cares as well as orthopedic and spine practices across the country and utilizes the most advanced Direct to Patient Marketing Strategies to increase patient volume.  Daniel has been recognized as a leader in Direct to Patient Marketing strategy and has lectured both nationally and internationally on the topic of Orthopedic and Spine Practice Marketing.