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Be sure and watch for insights from UCAOA CEO Laurel Stoimenoff, PT, CHC. Each month, Laurel shares insights on our industry, activities affecting urgent care, and information on UCAOA advocacy efforts and other events.

 

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Thoughtfully Flourishing into New Frontiers

Posted By Laurel Stoimenoff, Monday, July 2, 2018

UCA frequently receives calls from the media questioning the impact of current or looming influences on the industry. Typically, they are seeking opinions on how urgent care will fare in the uncertain future and if its meteoric growth trajectory can possibly continue. The good news is we are on their radar, though I sometimes sense they are seeking a more savory story,  even hoping our fate is like that of the Ford Edsel. I attribute it to envy, particularly in those who believe the road was an easy one devoid of the ingenuity and grit it took to get you where you are today.  

 

Urgent care centers have transformed on-demand medicine. The industry collectively chose to put the patient first and the consumer gravitated to it. Its focus has always been on elevating the patient experience and gaining their loyalty to a center or brand. Yet in recent months I have had the opportunity to speak with both clinical and operational leaders in a number of organizations regarding issues of clinical quality and patient safety. Suffice it to say that I have been extremely impressed and humbled by the profound commitment that fundamentally begins with these core tenets.  A parallel can be found in Disney, which is known for its courtesy and the guest experience but defines its highest priority as safety. While quality and safety are “given” expectations of consumers and they may lack the “wow” factor, they require relentless attention by those who provide the care and service.

 

High-Reliability Organizations

A high-reliability organization (HRO) is defined as an organization that operates in complex, high-hazard domains for extended periods without serious accidents or catastrophic failures. HROs consistently achieve their goals and deliver safe, high-quality service based on six foundational elements, including a preoccupation with failure. They focus on predicting failures instead of reacting to them. While on the surface, the urgent care environment may not seem to be highly complex or looming with hazards, reliability is a core tenet of value-based care (VBC).  And VBC will inspire integration with other providers and systems, resulting in an increasingly complex web where failure probabilities increase.  

 

What Could Go Wrong?

We are not pessimists when reflecting on what could possibly go wrong. After all, as a mentor used to tell me, a pessimist is just an optimist with experience. Whether considering quality and safety issues around patient care and outcomes, the fate of your business, or the future of the urgent care industry, we must do what oftentimes feels like the impossible: take time to think. The Urgent Care Foundation recently convened a representation of industry thought leaders at our Annual Convention and Expo for just this purpose. What we learned is that many of these innovators are implementing and improving their organizations with what some perceive as necessary defensive moves, while others see it as playing offense. Either way, we saw ways that these organizations continue to evolve while maintaining a keen focus on quality and safety. One of HRO’s foundational elements is resiliency, and these thought leaders define it.

 

In support of this, UCA’s revised mission reads:

 

We are an organization of leaders, providers and suppliers in the field of on-demand, consumer-focused healthcare. We advance our industry and support success through advocacy, education, research, collaboration and high standards of excellence.”

 

The upcoming urgent care conference is themed New Frontiers, representing the innovation of the industry and our collective commitment to reinventing ourselves in anticipation of changes in technology, the regulatory climate, consumer demands, and our healthcare communities, while always building on the fundamental successes that launched on-demand ambulatory healthcare. When the media calls, I make sure they understand the strength of the fabric that makes up this organism we call urgent care. That should be their story.

 

I hope to see you at the UCA Fall Conference in Houston, October 12-14. It’s where failure is not an option!

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Tags:  conference  high-reliability organizations  HRO  thought leaders  UCA  UCA mission  urgent care conference 

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Urgent Care Association, Your Gateway to Better

Posted By Dr. Pamela Sullivan, Immediate Past President, Thursday, June 7, 2018

(A Message from Immediate Past President, Dr. Pamela Sullivan)

A top of the line sports car. A rocket with cutting-edge design and technology. On-demand healthcare. Your business. The urgent care industry. What do these things have in common? They are all advancing quickly and striving to be the best in class. The Urgent Care Association of America (UCAOA) has heard your message. We strive to be the best, so we can support the industry and help drive your success. The Board of Directors and staff of UCAOA have spent the last year gauging the needs of our members and reviewing our strategic plan. Our goal is to broaden our scope of services and outreach, ensuring we are anticipating and exceeding the needs of the urgent care and on-demand industry. UCAOA is now the Urgent Care Association (UCA) - your gateway to better.

UCA connects the on-demand healthcare industry to better:

 

Education | Resources | Networking | Billing | Advocacy

Accreditation | Vendor Partners | Data | Recruiting | Telemedicine

Tools | Career Opportunities | Training | Support

 

Attendees at the Evolution 2.0 Urgent Care Convention & Expo last month received a first look at the association’s own “evolution” to UCA during the member appreciation lunch on Monday, May 7. Those at the convention were also able to take advantage of the inaugural VIP (Value in Participation) program, which gave every attendee the chance to take home up to $5,000 in free products and services from UCA and program vendors, ensuring that event attendance pays for itself. If you missed last month’s event, don’t snooze on registering for the 2018 Urgent Care Fall Conference in Houston October 1214! The VIP program will continue there, so you too can walk away from the event with up to $5,000 in free products and services from the industry’s best solution providers.

 

The VIP program is just one of many amazing resources and benefits that the association provides. I am in awe of the work accomplished by Laurel Stoimenoff, CEO and the UCA staff since I began to serve as president of the board.

 

The following is a partial list of achievements over the past year:

 

  • Specialty sections created as a free member benefit, including Pediatrics, Occupational Medicine, Telemedicine / eHealth, and Hospitals / Health Systems
  • Addition of the Northeast Regional Urgent Care Association (NERUCA) and California Urgent Care Association (CalUCA) as state chapters
  • 401k MEP (Multiple Employer Plan) member benefit launched
  • Members-only payer and reimbursement toolkit available on UCA website 
  • Advocacy efforts including “Day on the Hill” and Veterans’ Affairs bill
  • Released The Essential Role of the Urgent Care Center in Population Health white paper
  • 750 centers earning Accreditation, and 1,300 centers qualifying for Certification 
  • New certification types recognized, including Rural, Seasonal, Orthopedic, Occupational Medicine / Health, and Pediatrics After-Hours
  • College of Urgent Care Medicine (CUCM) restructured to welcome physician assistants and nurse practitioners
  • Collaborated with Antibiotic Resistance Action Center (ARAC) at George Washington University on antibiotic stewardship
  • Funded care for the uninsured offered by urgent care centers following hurricanes in Texas and Louisiana through the Urgent Care Foundation

 

As I reflect on my tenure as UCA president, I know that we will continue to strive to support you, our members, every day. I am humbled that I was given the opportunity to serve as your president. I wish success, happiness and good health to all of you.

 

Warmly, 

Pam

 

~Pamela C. Sullivan, MD, MBA, FACP, PT

 

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Channeling Vince

Posted By Laurel Stoimenoff, Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Vince Lombardi was an inspirational football coach. His intolerance of losing is legendary, but he also had an expectation for mindful preparedness that was evident when he said, “Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is.”

 

I’d like to go on record stating that I want to win. I want to win for those of you who show up at work during a horrific flu season knowing it’s going to be a day where you may not have time to eat, nor do you have any idea what time your shift will end. I want to win for all of those who support the moments leading up to and after the physician, PA, or NP walk into that room and the healing begins. And I want to win for the consumer who is ill, injured, or fearful who finds solace knowing that there is easy access to a competent and caring medical professional at a local urgent care center.

 

Our responsibility at UCAOA is to raise our heads up every day and think strategically on how we can ensure the ongoing success of urgent care medicine. That also means understanding our limitations. We are a staff of eighteen passionate individuals armed with a vision that could easily command a team twice that size. The administrative team supports the advancement of not only the Urgent Care Association of America, but the strategic initiatives of the College of Urgent Care Medicine, the Urgent Care Foundation, and the newly formed Urgent Care Services Corporation.

 

Making Connections

Recognizing that we cannot accomplish our vision without collaboration, the UCAOA Board of Directors has stressed the importance of connections over the past year. We are forging relationships with other associations and stakeholders in the world of on-demand, consumer-driven healthcare and identifying areas of common interest. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, as of October 2017, there were 456,389 professionally active primary care physicians in the U.S.1 Assuming the association’s database of 8,223 urgent care centers each employed 2.5 physicians, urgent care’s voice would pale as a percentage. But we know we can amplify that voice through our connections and collaborative efforts.

 

Our Annual Convention & Expo brings together thought leaders from other sectors of the on-demand healthcare industry to celebrate our diversity and identify those areas where we can capitalize on our common ground. While our dialogue is in its nascent stages, it is apparent that the strategic direction of these organizations is also about inclusiveness and outreach. And just as the annual Convention & Expo acts as a connector between a diverse group of clinicians, operators, vendors, and speakers, the association strives to make connections on behalf of our members through online resources, specialty sections, advocacy efforts, education, and networking opportunities.

 

Vince Lombardi also said, “In all my years of coaching, I have never been successful using somebody else’s play.” The wisdom there is not to simply replicate what someone else has done, but improve upon it. I’m confident Vince studied the plays of others, but subsequently reinvented them. And then those who followed studied what Vince did, and the game was better because of it.

 

We will continue to build upon the burgeoning platform of consumer-driven healthcare. There will be challenges along the road to success, but we don’t get bitter. We will use them to get better. And win. You deserve that.

 


1.       Kaiser Family Foundation. Professionally active physicians. Available at: https://www.kff.org/other/state-indicator/total-active-physicians. Accessed March 26, 2018.

 

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Tags:  advocacy  connections  convention  cucm  education  networking  sections  ucf 

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Start a Revolution at Evolution 2.0

Posted By Laurel Stoimenoff, Monday, April 2, 2018

It’s not surprising that Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase have joined forces to impact the rising costs of healthcare. The complexities of healthcare and the billions spent annually on healthcare lobbying have limited the ability of the government to implement any material change. The 1976 movie Network features fictional broadcaster Howard Beale’s famous speech where he implores the people to open their windows and yell out, “I’m not going to take this anymore!” He tells his listeners to first get mad, then we’ll all figure out how to solve the problem.

 

This seems to be the approach being taken by these titan corporations. They have indicated that they intend to leverage technology as a solution, but little else is known about how they are going to revolutionize healthcare delivery. But they’re mad. And we can help.

 

The Affordable Care Act made changes, but 11.7% of adults were uninsured in 2017.1 And the average family who did have coverage experienced their employer-sponsored healthcare premium grow 20% from 2011 to 2016, with an anticipated increase of another 6.5% in 2018.2 Some predict that as healthcare costs increase and income remains relatively constant, staying well will consume the average worker’s income in the not-too-distant future. And when two lines cross on a graph, something big is bound to happen. Mike Ferguson, chief operating officer of the Self-Insured Institute of America, wrote “By breaking free of the conventional coverage model, self-insured companies are finding innovative ways to improve the health of their workers, and at lower cost. Business leaders and policy-makers should take note.”3

 

Consumer-driven healthcare isn’t going away. But we need to do more than adapt to these inevitable changes. We need to collaborate with these innovators and invent the future. Telemedicine’s growth was catalyzed by the self-insured employers. When Cigna and United Health put their toe in the water to cover telemedicine visits several years ago, the coverage was limited to the self-insured groups they administered.

 

So, what can we do? Our growth strategies must extend beyond penetrating the traditional payer community to partnering with employers. The next time you have an opportunity to speak with an employer about their injured worker, why not bring up the benefits you can provide by caring for their entire workforce? You can set up an on-site or provide care in your near-site center. Many payer contracts restrict you from providing care that extends beyond episodic illness and injury, but employers shouldn’t care where the wellness care is taking place. You have the opportunity to provide unfettered care where the employee’s health and future savings are the ultimate goals.

 

Embrace change, embrace technology, and embrace integration. Get involved in healthcare policy at the state level and help UCAOA when we need your voice at the federal level. It’s much more satisfying to proactively influence policy than fall victim to it.  

 

I hope you’ll join us next month at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas for UCAOA’s Annual Convention & Expo. We will address employer strategies and update you on the regulatory climate. We’ll host state and chapter networking discussions and encourage thought leadership on strategies to influence meaningful change. The convention has been dubbed Evolution 2.0 to reflect the next trajectory of our relatively nascent industry. Think of it as (R)EVOLUTION 2.0, and together, let’s lead it.

 

References

1.   Well-Being Index. U.S. uninsured rate rises in 2Q 2017. July 2017. Available at: http://www.well-beingindex.com/u.s.-uninsured-rate-2q-2017. Accessed March 6, 2018.

2.   PwC. Medical cost trend: Behind the numbers 2018. Available at: https://www.pwc.com/us/en/health-industries/health-research-institute/behind-the-numbers/reports/hri-behind-the-numbers-2018.pdf. Accessed March 6, 2018.

3.   Ferguson M. Self-insured companies help push health care innovations. Investor’s Business Daily. March 22, 2017. Available at: https://www.investors.com/politics/commentary/self-insured-companies-help-push-health-care-innovations/. Accessed March 6, 2018.

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Tags:  ceo  Convention  growth  Membership  payer  technology  telemedicine 

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What’s Our Rallying Cry?

Posted By Laurel Stoimenoff, Wednesday, February 28, 2018

What’s Our Rallying Cry?

 

I periodically like to see what other associations are doing on behalf of their members and industries. Recently, I was intrigued by an initiative of the Brewers Association. The Association launched the largest crowdfunding campaign in history to #TakeCraftBack from Anheuser-Busch In-Bev (ABI). Belgium-based ABI has been acquiring smaller, independently owned craft breweries since 2011, so the Brewers Association elected to rally their membership to raise a mere $213 billion (yes, with a B) to meet the asking price for ABI. Only pledges, not actual donations, will be accepted unless those pledges reach the targeted purchase price, unlikely as that may be. Nonetheless, this represents an association orchestrating a message that is being heard by many.

 

Identifying Our #TakeCraftBack

 

It was the simplicity of the message that I found so intriguing. Each day, team UCAOA is engaged in a myriad of industry and member-supporting activities. We do this through multiple channels including, but certainly not limited to, education, advocacy, board-member strategy sessions, benchmarking, media communications, research, committee work, chapter and section support, and the contributions of valued volunteers.

 

 UCAOA is privileged to support a diverse membership who join with equally diverse agendas and expectations. So, what is our singular message we cannot only all agree upon, but also support with a vengeance?

 

In a recent survey of middle-market healthcare companies1, reimbursement was cited as the #1 challenge for 2018. Many urgent care copayments have become so high that they represent the bulk of the anticipated payment, while the costs associated with billing the payers for a shrinking percentage of the total claim continue to rise. It baffles me that urgent care centers are not universally recognized as an essential component in the provision of acute primary care services.

 

The shortage of primary care physicians is deemed a crisis. Urgent care integration with the PCP practice is a clear solution, yet reimbursement models seem focused on creating disincentives to seek care in the UC setting. So, should our singular message center on fair compensation for the important role we play in keeping communities healthy? Or perhaps we agree that even though emergency departments are overcrowded, patients continue to seek care for conditions that could be cost-effectively cared for in the urgent care center. Should our mantra therefore be focused on breaking down barriers and getting patients to the right care at the right time in the right setting?

 

Make Your Voice Known

 

We want to hear from you. Urgent care’s largest convening of key stakeholders takes place at the UCAOA Annual Convention & EXPO, May 69 at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas. I will be accompanied by UCAOA colleagues and Board members who all want to know what you believe our agenda needs to be to ensure member and industry success. While we are committed to our long-term strategic plan, we remain open to responding to needs of our members as they arise.

 

Aretha Knew

 

I have said it before, but I repeat it because it is heartfelt: We are privileged to serve urgent care centers and stakeholders. Cost-effective access to a competent, caring medical provider today should be an option for all. The providers and operators who open their doors every day, particularly at times when others don’t, deserve fair reimbursement for what they do. Aretha Franklin may have articulated our rallying cry many years ago.

We just want a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T.   #UrgentCareRespect

 

 


1 Modern Healthcare, “Healthcare execs look to make deals in 2018”, Tara Bannow, December 30 2017.  http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20171230/NEWS/171239985 

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Urgent Care at the Forefront in the “New Normal” of Healthcare Delivery

Posted By Laurel Stoimenoff, Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The CVS/Aetna proposed merger is a watershed moment that profoundly underscores the ongoing departure from old school healthcare delivery systems toward a customer-centric approach focused on access, convenience, and affordability.

While some may have been caught off-guard by this and other recent merger and acquisition announcements in the on-demand healthcare sector, those of us in urgent care already recognized this trend in consumer-driven care and have adopted delivery models catering to patient demands and accessibility.

Never Stop Innovating

As the healthcare delivery model continues to evolve, urgent care remains the industry leader providing urgent and primary care at a reasonable price point, often in a single stop for the consumer. Urgent care operators have been agile innovators at the forefront of the consumer healthcare revolution.

In November 2017 Harvard Business Review published an article entitled 3 Changes Retailers Need to Make to Survive that stated, “The retailers left standing are those that figure out how to treat disruption as business-as-usual in an industry accustomed to slow, strategic planning.” It goes on to conclude, “It’s either adapt to the new environment or step aside and make room for a competitor who can.”1

We have never been an industry to rest on our laurels (I had to say it); nor will we be in the future. Wise owners hire visionaries, have cultures that allow failure, and never look back. UCAOA’s conference exhibit halls are replete with innovative technologies, services, and products, and it is exciting to see attendees engage with the vendors and embracing opportunities to ensure ongoing relevance and viability.

Focused Innovation

I’ve always thought that monitoring new and established patients was one way of evaluating practice relevance. What technologies and campaigns were great at bringing a new patient into your office? What experience did they have in the office that brought them back as an established patient?

If one side of the new vs established patient ratio is weak or trending negatively without reasonable explanation, it’s time to innovate. Where in the continuum of patient acquisition, administration, treatment, follow-up, and billing is your greatest opportunity?

Maintaining the Legacy of Leadership

We collect patient data—both quantitative and qualitative—to understand the best way to provide care and guide future planning. Vigilantly monitoring trends in patient demands and challenging the status quo will sustain our role as industry prognosticators. Consolidations, mergers and acquisitions, and other reshuffling of industry relationships will undoubtedly continue in response to the purchasing behavior of the consumer. We built the urgent care model on principles of customer-driven care, and we now hold the reins to redefine on-demand care and its role in the healthcare mix.

At the forefront of patient-centric transformations, our urgent care leaders educate consumers on their healthcare options, advocate the need for modernization to regulators, and forge stronger relationships with payers in an environment increasingly focused on value. Urgent care sets the tone for today’s burgeoning delivery models, and remains laser-focused on the future to ensure growth and success tomorrow.

To read more of our thoughts on the future of urgent care, download the 2018 State of the Industry whitepaper at www.ucaoa.org/whitepaper.

 


1 Harvard Business Review, Disruptive Innovation, “3 Changes Retailers Need to Make to Survive”, Nick Harrison and Deborah O’Neill, November 15, 2017.

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UCAOA Responds to the Diversity and Interests of the Industry Through New Certification Options and Specialty Sections

Posted By Laurel Stoimenoff, PT, CHC, Wednesday, January 3, 2018

As the urgent care industry evolves, our members have also evolved. The Urgent Care Association of America is launching new Certification Opportunities as well as specialty Sections.

CERTIFICATION
In response to the diversification of the industry, the UCAOA Board and Certification Committee have made changes to the certification criteria. Historically, UCAOA certification recognized a qualified urgent care as one open seven days a week, offering comprehensive medical services for patients of all ages. A limited scope pure pediatric urgent care could also qualify. UCAOA has subsequently established categories for Rural, Occupational Medicine and Seasonal urgent care centers with additional limited scope options currently under consideration.  Occupational Medicine is the first certification that can be coupled with another, and MD Now’s 26 Florida centers are the first to attain this prestigious designation.

SECTIONS
The newly formed Sections were historically known as Special Interest Groups (SIGs), focused on providing online networking opportunities to a defined community. Some of these SIGs, such as Revenue Cycle, will continue while the newly established Sections will have a much broader function.

Charters have been developed, and champions established, for Telemedicine and eHealth (Bill Lewis, MD), Pediatric Urgent Care (Parul Martin, MD), and Hospital & Health Systems (Robert Rohatsch, MD) Sections. Other Sections in the works include Occupational Medicine/Worker’s Health, and UC Operations & Management.

Expanded Resources and Collaboration
Our new Sections will offer more sophisticated communities, collaboration and resources to assist with the diverse services and patient populations treated by today’s urgent care centers.  More specifically, clinically-oriented Sections will:

  • Strengthen advocacy efforts including payer outreach and regulatory affairs
  •  Use UCAOA communication outlets to promote quality in the delivery of services to specific populations
  • Monitor and support the dissemination of relevant research to section members
  • Collaborate with UCAOA’s Certification and Accreditation Committee on matters related to care, scope, safety and quality
  • Work with the Urgent Care Foundation and the College of Urgent Care Medicine on relevant projects
  • Appoint a designee to work with our Education Committee to develop relevant educational experiences to be showcased via online courses or at UCAOA conferences 

TAILORED SECTION CONTENT
Sections will establish communication outlets, guide education efforts, and focus on each’s unique administrative and clinical issues. As an example, a hospital or health system-based urgent care may have greater resources at its disposal than a non-system affiliated urgent care, but it may face unique challenges such as making a system-based EMR fit the needs of an urgent care where efficiency and throughput are essential patient satisfiers. The Hospital & Health System Section could research and report on EMR adoption and integration best practices specific to their urgent care settings, providing tailored guidelines to its community.

UCAOA members can join any (and many) Section(s) of interest – one doesn’t have to work at a pediatric urgent care center to join the Pediatric Section. Caring for pediatric patients in your urgent care center is reason enough to join.  There is no cost to join as Section membership is a benefit of being a UCAOA member.

IT'S A NEW YEAR!

So, come join a new Section or pursue new opportunities for center certification to further take advantage of all UCAOA membership has to offer.  Contact Jami Kral for more information on Sections or Brian Gaddis for certification. Happy New Year to all!  We look forward to another year of serving our members and the much-needed service you provide. 

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UCAOA Members: The Rising Tide

Posted By By Laurel Stoimenoff, PT, CHC, Wednesday, December 6, 2017

I recently attended the Northeast Regional Urgent Care Association’s (NERUCA) conference, a chapter of UCAOA, to meet and network with our mutual members and participate in its leadership education track.  Shaun Ginter, CEO of CareWell Urgent Care and a UCAOA director, presented “Creating a Culture of Service,” during which he shared personal experiences of what worked, what didn’t work in his organization, and how CareWell measures service success. Following his presentation, gratitude was expressed for Shaun’s complete transparency in the information shared with a group that included potential competitors.  John Kulin, DO, president of NERUCA, commented that too often urgent care centers are painted with the same brush and a patient experience is a reflection on all centers.  As an oft misunderstood industry, elevating that experience and openly sharing successes and failures is a necessity.  Dr. Kulin summarized his comments by stating, “A rising tide raises all ships.” 

A Gift from Our Members to Urgent Care

UCAOA members have a history of sharing and supporting one another.  As a result, urgent care medicine has gained greater credibility from the perspective of patients, payers, the medical community and employers.  Additionally, member support through dues, purchases, and conference and convention attendance has allowed UCAOA to do the work we do on your behalf.  We work diligently and thoughtfully to provide support to individual and organizational members.  But, we never forget what our members and vendors do for us through their support.  In the spirit of the season, it is truly a gift to passionately serve you and your centers.

Members Matter through Support And Volunteerism

UCAOA was able to achieve a myriad of accomplishments in 2017 – spanning industry advancement, education, outreach and growth – thanks to the support and volunteerism of our members. Here are some highlights from the past year:

Leadership & Advocacy
In May, UCAOA participated in a Day on the Hill, advocating on behalf of urgent care centers across the country. UCAOA also provided the resources and expertise to publish a state of the industry whitepaper, as well as the annual Benchmarking Report – which is arguably the most quoted resource on the industry.

Education
UCAOA’s Education Committee worked tirelessly to offer the most relevant educational experiences for urgent care physicians, advanced practice clinicians, operators and administrators. The College of Urgent Care Medicine (CUCM) advanced its strategic agenda, produced a clinical newsletter and expanded its influence by welcoming NPs and PAs into the College alongside the many esteemed physicians it already serves.

Support
The Urgent Care Foundation raised funds through the support of attendees at the Annual Foundation Celebration, as well as sponsored grants to provide research, including antibiotic stewardship. The funds also facilitated a scientific symposium on concussion care in the urgent care setting, convened a thought leaders’ forum on the future of urgent care and established a disaster relief fund to assist urgent care center recovery.

Expansion
UCAOA launched Pediatric, Telemedicine, and Hospital and Health System sections for members, with more of these special interest groups in planning stages. The California Urgent Care Association (CALUCA) joined UCAOA as a chapter – further expanding the organization’s reach and membership – and a consulting arm was created to better assist urgent care centers interested in pursuing accreditation. Looking ahead, the UCAOA Board drafted a three-year strategic plan for future growth.

UCAOA turned 13 in 2017, and while we have the energy and passion of a teenager, we could not do our work without the rising tide that is provided by our members and industry supporters.  Thank you to all who collectively “raise the ships” so they may continue to deliver high-value, quality care to patients everywhere. 





This article is also available in the December issue of JUCM

 

 

 

Tags:  Advocacy  ceo  certification  connectivity  health  membership  on-demand services  patient care  patient experience  quality of care  UCAOA  urgent care  urgent care center 

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Urgent Care Foundation Provides Care During Disasters

Posted By By Laurel Stoimenoff, PT, CHC, Wednesday, November 8, 2017

As demonstrated in the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, urgent care centers play a vital role in communities affected by natural disasters and other emergencies. Contributions to the Urgent Care Foundation’s Disaster Relief Fund support your dedicated colleagues who strive to keep their doors open and serve their patients in times of crisis.

There in Time of Need
When disaster strikes, healthcare organizations became focal points for outreach, care and distribution of resources as communities look to rebuild. After Hurricane Harvey ravaged southeast Texas and parts of Louisiana this summer, the Urgent Care Foundation reached out to centers in the region to offer help.

Tapping into the fund to subsidize local urgent care operations, the foundation helped coordinate a Weekend of Service as local urgent care centers worked to ensure the community had access to affordable healthcare in a time of intense need. Patient needs included routine care, treatment of flood-related illnesses and injuries and providing needed prescriptions to those who could not get back into their residences. For patients who were without health insurance or were simply unable to pay their portion of the claim, the urgent care centers provided free or discounted services throughout the weekend campaign. Some centers were able to provide immediate treatment, while others burdened with more damage kept their doors open to distribute resources such as food, water and information to the community – still playing a crucial role in relief efforts. Practice Velocity donated the resources from their marketing department to get the word out so patients could seek care from the many generous centers who offered to participate. 

Responding to the Call
UCAOA established the Urgent Care Foundation to enhance the role, purpose and awareness of urgent care medicine by inspiring and contributing to research, education, clinical and practice management leadership, as well as innovation in new and emerging healthcare delivery models.  Charity is also central to its mission.

In the fall of 2016, the foundation Trustees cited the need for a disaster fund following the devastating floods that hit Baton Rouge, Louisiana earlier that year.   Lake After Hours and Lake Urgent Care initiated a “We’re Here for You” campaign where a volunteer team of administrative, clinical and medical providers worked tirelessly to feed, treat and comfort displaced residents. Despite some of their locations experiencing significant flooding which also personally affected many employees and providers, the urgent care centers became of hub of support, informing residents on where to access care if they couldn’t provide it themselves and simply providing water, comfort and other necessities.

In contrast to other giving opportunities, the Urgent Care Foundation’s Disaster Relief Fund’s sole purpose is to ensure access to the affordable same-day care offered by urgent care centers.  We want to thank our past, present and future contributors.  The foundation aspires to more generously support our affected colleagues in future years when disaster strikes.  

The recent response of the urgent care community following this series of hurricanes reminds all of us at UCAOA why we are privileged to serve you.

To donate to the Disaster Relief Fund, please visit the Urgent Care Foundation’s website page.

 

This CEO Insight column is also published in the November issue of JUCM. 

 

Tags:  accessibility  ceo  health  healthcare  on-demand services  patient care  patient engagement  UCAOA  urgent care  urgent care center 

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Occupational Medicine Integration Boosts Urgent Care Sustainability and Growth

Posted By Laurel Stoimenoff, PT, CHC, Thursday, October 12, 2017

UCAOA currently identifies 7,639 urgent care centers in the U.S., up from just over 6,900 two years ago. This consistent growth, coupled with uncertainty about future payment models, has inspired many urgent care operators to explore, expand and diversify their product offerings to ensure a strong future. For many urgent care operators, a proven strategy has been the integration of occupational medicine (Occ Med). 

According to the National Academy of Social Insurance, injured workers’ medical benefits exceed $31 billion per year yet, according to UCAOA’s annual Benchmarking Report, it represents a small percentage of revenue for many centers. Astute employers seek cost-effective alternatives to the emergency department during those hours when their workforce is active.  Onsite radiology, lab and medical services augmented by a seven-day schedule render the urgent care center an attractive option for both workers and employers.  

While the synergies of acute primary care and Occ Med abound, there are nuances associated with caring for injured workers and the new customer in the room…the employer.  Urgent care operators must ensure that their administrative, communication and clinical processes address the triggers that ensure not only a positive patient outcome, but also a favorable employer experience.  As one employer once said to me despite a long history of providing care for their injured workers, “You’re only as good as the last one treated.”   This is a service line where relationships determine results and urgent care centers need to adjust their delivery model or, if multi-site, consider selecting several geographically appropriate occupational medicine centers of excellence.

Diversify Your Patient and Payer Base
Adding Occ Med services to an urgent care center opens the door to new patient populations in the community. While traditional urgent care patients often seek care near their home, injured workers tend to seek services close to work.  The addition of the service automatically taps into a new, non-resident population.  While urgent care centers are prepared for illness and injury, illness tends to dominate unless an injured worker strategy is successfully pursued.  

Additionally, increasing overall reimbursement per visit can be accomplished through a more favorable payor distribution.  The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) reported that of the 42 states with industrial fee schedules, only two states reimbursed some services less than Medicare, while most compensated providers an average of 130% of the Medicare fee schedule.  Imagine favorable fee schedules with no patient responsibility toward payment.

Viability
The ever-changing healthcare landscape continues to put pressure on providers to secure strong reimbursement contracts with payers and strengthen the bottom line. When urgent care expands to include Occ Med services, new channels of revenue become available through stable partnerships with community employers and expanded patient populations. While employer satisfaction is essential, they know that management of a work-related injury becomes a team sport, and a favorable patient experience is more likely to result a positive clinical (and financial) outcome. A positive work-related injury experience in the urgent care center should translate to future traffic if it’s done right.   Additionally, injured workers often require follow-up care so while the cost of patient acquisition may be higher, it is more than offset by the revenue associated with the injury care.

Sustainability
Integrating Occ Med services allows urgent care centers to remain resilient to industry changes that may arise in the future. Offering a variety of on-demand services empowers urgent care centers to keep pace with the demand for convenient, patient-focused healthcare options. Patients and employers share a common need when the unexpected occurs…ready access to affordable, quality, one-stop healthcare.

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Join us at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, California for UCAOA’s Fall Conference where industry experts will present both clinical and practice management tracks focused on occupational medicine and employer services. The conference takes place October 26-28. For more information on this and other session topics, please visit the conference website: ucaoa.org/2017Fall

Tags:  ceo  health  occupational healthquality of care  on-demand services  patient care  urgent care 

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