Recently, I was fortunate to be interviewed by Orthopreneur regarding the new trend of Orthopedic Urgent Care. Below is an excerpt from the article in which orthopedic specialists can learn how Orthopedic Urgent Care can help control patient referrals and become a practice revenue generator.
Orthopreneur : Diversify and Protect Revenue Streams with Orthopaedic Urgent Care
ICD-10 has been called the latest rendition of “healthcare rationing by hassle” by some surgeons. The change has caused reimbursement delays and stunted some physicians’ ability to see their routine volume of patients. With declining margins squeezing every facet of orthopaedics and as reimbursement coding undergoes sweeping change, independent surgeons need to diversify their practices to protect existing revenue and develop new streams. One way to do that is by aligning with or opening an orthopaedic urgent care center.
Daniel Goldberg, CEO of Gold Medical Marketing, specialist in marketing and public relations for orthopaedic practices, says that general urgent care has begun to siphon patients from internist and primary care offices because they provide a more immediate alternative. If a patient needs follow-up with an orthopaedic specialist, the urgent care center will recommend which specialist to see. Sensing an opportunity, large hospitals and health systems have started to partner with urgent cares to better control referrals and send them upstream to hospital-affiliated providers.
Additionally, Goldberg says, more primary care, internists and other historic referral sources for orthopaedic specialists are being acquired by large health and hospital systems. “Once acquired, these physicians are no longer able to ‘leak’ referrals outside of the hospital system,” he says. That means, for independent orthopaedic specialists, that some of your primary referral sources are disappearing because you may not be part of that hospital system. For practices reliant on those referrals, Goldberg says, that is a frightening scenario. Aligning with or opening an orthopaedic urgent care can open new referral sources.
“By offering orthopaedic urgent care, the practice is no longer the end-provider, but the first step in the patient’s care path,” he says.
Opening an Urgent Care
“Overhead is one of the main obstacles to opening an orthopaedic urgent care, particularly in relation to staffing”, Goldberg says.
“In most cases, the orthopaedic urgent care is staffed by a mix of physicians and physicians’ assistants (PAs), and will be open two to four hours later on weekdays [than your practice] and offer limited Saturday and Sunday hours,” he says.
The key to success is to staff according to volume, Goldberg says. For the first few months of a newly-opened urgent care, the need for staff may not rise above one doctor, one PA and one x-ray tech. As the urgent care’s patient volume increases, additional staff and support staff should be added concordant with volume.
Goldberg says that another way to overcome the obstacle of overhead costs is to make sure that the orthopaedic urgent cares are effectively and appropriately marketing their services—which is itself a challenge.
“In many cases, practices believe that because they hang a sign outside or put an ad in the local newspaper, patients will automatically begin to utilize this new service line. Unfortunately, that’s not true,” he says. “The key is knowing your target audience and creating awareness about your services. You must be top of mind when an orthopaedic injury happens so patients will utilize your services vs. a competitor’s.”
Gold Medical Marketing specializes in Marketing and Public Relations for Orthopedic, Spine and Neurosurgery practices as well as Orthopedic Urgent Care. We pride ourselves on our ability to generate patients for our clients using the most effective Medical Marketing and Public Relations strategies. Our experience, knowledge and understanding of patient behavior makes us the most successful Medical Marketing and Public Relations company. Too often “marketing companies” focus on one single outlet such as SEO, Social Media, Pay Per Click or Print Advertising. The drawback to this is that patients consume medical information through several means and if your practice is not targeting all available outlets, you are missing out on large segments of the market.
Our clients have seen their practices grow using a variety of Medical Marketing and Public Relations strategies. Unlike other companies, we are exclusively in the medical field and do not make the mistake of marketing your practice like a retail product. Gold Medical Marketing offers NO COST MARKETING EVALUATIONS, wherein we will objectively evaluate your current marketing efforts. The goal of this is to highlight areas in need of improvement as well as areas where money is being wasted. Contact us today to set up an evaluation.