46% of Americans utilize urgent care facilities during the holidays when primary care offices are closed
Urgent care centers provide the care patients need when they need it. These types of facilities often see an influx of patients when typical primary care offices are closed. This also means that the holidays create full waiting rooms for providers. What kind of injuries or illnesses do urgent cares often treat around the holidays? How can they handle this sudden surge? Let’s find out.
As we know, urgent cares are meant to treat common illnesses and non-life threatening injuries. For all other problems, patients are directed to an emergency room to seek further care. With that being said, there are a multitude of reasons that a patient may seek an urgent care.
Some of the issues that drive urgent care traffic throughout the holiday season include…
- Falls – Sprains, fractures, and dislocations of the lower extremities are common during this time of the year. The main cause of this is holiday decorating. Patients are likely to experience falls when hanging up lights or other decorations.
- Lacerations – Cuts to fingers and hands are likely to happen throughout this time of the year. For families this means postponed meals, however, for urgent cares, this means stitches and bandages.
- Burns – When cooking large meals for family, it can be easy to become distracted and for individuals to get burned. Burns during the holidays are common due to this, rushing, and even the types of clothing individuals where while cooking.
- Indigestion – Do you tend to overeat during the holidays? Many of us use this time of the year as an excuse to over indulge on holiday goodies. This can cause heartburn and indigestion that can mimic a heart attack and raise alarm for patients.
- Food Poisoning – If the holiday bird or other chosen meat isn’t fully cooked, individuals will become susceptible to food poisoning which could land them in your urgent care clinic.
The listed reasons above that aid in holiday urgent care surge is not an exhaustive list. A handful of other reasons exist that could make both your waiting room and your exam room full. It is your job as an urgent care provider to know how to handle this surge. We have some tips to help your organization prepare for the holiday blunders that may be walking through your clinic’s doorway.
Handling Holiday Urgent Care Surge
- What does surge mean to your clinic? – Develop a protocol for handling surge in a way that is appropriate for your clinic. This could involve timing and measuring how much time is between each visit, each move from the waiting room, and each exit. This will help to paint a clear picture of how many members of your care team are needed to handle the holiday surge. (Think back: has your practice experienced surge during another part of the year? Apply those protocols and adjust accordingly.)
- On-Call Staff – If your practice becomes inundated with holiday related disasters and not enough personnel to cover the floor, it’s important to have resources available. This may mean coming up with an on-call staff schedule. This provides peace of mind for whenever your waiting room seems like more than you can manage. (This also helps create better patient satisfaction rates which could lead to hirer retention for those who may need your services in the future.)
- “Next Day Appointment” Availability – If your urgent care clinic is experiencing a larger influx of patients than it can handle, provide “next day appointments” to non-urgent cases.
Holiday surge for medical clinics creates stress for those in the space if a surge plan is not created. Not only does it need created, it needs communicated throughout your office. Handling surge at your clinic will become easier as your clinic experiences it – prepare to experience a few hurdles along the way. Scheduling software for those next day appointments, and practice management programs can help alleviate some stress. If you begin to struggle with surge, look into tools that can provide insight into length of stay, reports for how many patients were seen, and more.