To open an urgent care or to not open an urgent care, that is the question…
One of the first questions a physician asks themselves when considering opening an urgent care center, is whether they should embark on this journey alone, or as part of a team. Go it alone? Franchise? Partner? We’ll leave the franchise discussion for another time, and focus on the pros of working with a group of like-minded physicians and/or business partners.
According to the African proverb, if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. This could easily apply to opening and managing an urgent care center. Many physicians find it preferable to form a group to undertake the challenge because of the innumerable tasks — medical and non-medical — that must be undertaken to be successful. Great physicians may not always be great entrepreneurs, and for that reason, it is advantageous to divide-and-conquer, and leverage the individual strengths of team members.
Accountability to a Partner
works in every aspect of life. Having another person with whom to share a challenge – and then share the commitment to meeting that challenge – is highly motivational. Applying this principle to an urgent care start-up, one can see that if a partner becomes unfocused or begins to doubt the mission, there is another partner that can remind him or her of all the reasons why the project was a good idea – and that all of those reasons still exist.
Spread the Risk, Share the Wealth.
Often, when physicians get together to launch an urgent care practice, each partner makes a financial investment. Dividing the start-up costs by 2, 3, 4 or even 5 can provide a level of safety as well as fiscal relief and an incentive to run a lean operation in order to provide the partners with a return on their investment as soon as possible.
An additional benefit to having multiple partners involved is the “network effect.” When a team of physicians and business partners get together, and pool their resources, including whom they know in various professions, they soon realize that they have a trustworthy network to tap into to help navigate hundreds of tasks and decisions. These range from space selection; lease negotiation; interior design (waiting room furniture, artwork, office design/layout); marketing (logo design; signage; outreach); IT/technology support (websites, mobile apps, phone systems); to selecting medical software (EHR, Practice Management, billing, performance tracking, and compliance systems).
Managing the Office and Non-Clinical Urgent Care Staff
can often be difficult for physicians as they are primarily focused on delivering quality care, and managing clinical staff. Having a strong office manager that can oversee the practice, and report to the physician partners is an ideal scenario for many early-stage urgent care centers. Often times, practices are fortunate to hire a general office manager/marketer/human resources/billing manager. Including a business-minded manager on the team from the outset is important. They can also serve as the project manager before the practice is up and running, keeping everyone on-task and facilitating communication among the stakeholders.
And, one final bit of advice, whether you are a sole practitioner or part of a group, look for leverage everywhere. Just as hiring one person to manage multiple office roles provides leverage and value-add, using software and technology that performs multiple functions and delivers value in multiple areas is important. For example, having an EHR/PM solution that enables not only fast charting and improvements in productivity, but also makes a performance dashboard and quality analytics easily accessible, delivers efficiency gains across the board. This approach gives the practice a single workflow tool and data source to support staffing and financial decisions as well as accelerating charting and clinical workflow and reporting on quality of care.
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About the author,
As director of Business Development at Edaris, Ms. Mack has 15 years of experience with healthcare enterprise implementation, product management and sales of healthcare information systems.
Learn more about
Edaris Health here.