Which mistake are you making?
With any startup business venture, there are a number of pitfalls that can cause trouble for the new business, from small headaches to fatal mistakes. Urgent care startups are no different. Here we detail five mistakes that urgent care startups make and how to prevent them.
Mistake #1: Selecting a poor location for your urgent care center
Choosing a solid location requires a delicate balance. While it can be tempting to stick with the familiarity of your hometown, this may not be the best course of action. If adequate access to care already exists in a community, this is not the right location. Another bad choice is opening in a small community with a declining population. Opening in a community with a strong population increases the potential for a lot of future patients.
How do you select a good location for you urgent care practice?
It’s important to choose your location by focusing on site visibility and how much competition you can expect. Use the following questions to qualify any location:
- Does the location sit on a high traffic road?
- Is it near a strong retail anchor?
- What kind of signage opportunities are available?
- Is there a need for an urgent care facility in this area?
Make sure to choose a location with a strong population that doesn’t currently have a large urgent care presence. Placing your clinic in a high traffic area with plenty of clear signage is critical for success.
Mistake #2: Underestimating the investment needed to start an urgent care
It’s no secret that any urgent care startup needs money to get going and will experience a waiting period before turning a profit. Miscalculating the amount of money needed to get started is easy and this can quickly become the kiss of death for your clinic.
How can you determine the required investment for your new urgent care?
Plan for every possible financial need and challenge during your startup period. Remember that your capital costs go beyond simply buying equipment and paying rent. You’ll also need cash-on-hand to keep you solvent while you get your accounts receivable going, a process that could easily take a few months. Make sure you set realistic expectations of your money coming in versus going out to avoid any unpleasant surprises.
Mistake #3: Failing to create (and follow) a solid urgent care business plan
The three planning mistakes an urgent care startup can make:
- Not creating a business plan at all
- Not writing a thorough business plan
- Blindly sticking to a business plan even if it isn’t working
How can you create a strong express care business plan?
Make a strategic business plan based on accurate data from current statistics and include educated projections for the future. Also, prepare to have a level of flexibility with your plan. If you base your organization’s business plan on solid information it should hold up, but if it becomes clear you need to make changes don’t be afraid to do so.
Mistake #4: Skimping on practice management/EHR software
Choosing the right electronic health records software (EHR) can be intimidating. It can also be tempting to decide not to purchase EHR, if you need to keep costs low as a startup. However, not investing in adequate software now will only hurt your productivity in the long run. This mistake alone will cost you over time.
How can you be sure you’re choosing the right EHR software?
Do your research. Ask colleagues in the field what practice management software they use and what EHR systems they’ve heard about, both good and bad. Study purchasing guides and vendor websites. Get demos of the software products you think might work and ask plenty of questions. When it comes time to sign on the dotted line, resist the urge to choose the least expensive option based on price alone. Choose the vendor that best fits your business model and processes of your unique urgent care practice.
Mistake #5: Inefficient patient billing
There are many ways to mess up when it comes to billing, but the two main mistakes to avoid are choosing an inexperienced person to do your billing and not having a defined billing process. Remember, your billing operation will control your revenue stream so it’s important to have timely reimbursements from your payers.
How can you be sure your billing process will hold up?
First, decide if you’ll do your billing in-house or contract out to a third party. Many urgent cares elect to use a revenue cycle service (RCS) for their billing needs. If you choose an RCS, look for one that is experienced in the specific needs of express care centers and make sure you’re being offered a clear package or listing of the services you’ll be receiving. If you decide to do your billing in-house, hire dedicated billing and coding staff who have ample experience with reviewing claims for accuracy and filing in a timely fashion. Whether you keep your billing internal or hire it out, define your billing process clearly before you open so that you have a plan of what to expect.
As with any startup business, it can be easy to make mistakes when getting an urgent care off the ground. Remember to plan carefully, choose a quality location, be realistic about funding, develop an efficient billing process, and choose the right EHR software.