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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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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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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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UCAOA Membership Just Keeps Getting Better: Seize the Opportunities & Resources

Posted By Laurel Stoimenoff, PT, CHC, Monday, September 18, 2017

Amid all the industry changes and uncertainties, healthcare leaders are taking full advantage of any and all resources available to them to better navigate the complexities of the evolving healthcare landscape.  Urgent care clinicians, centers, practice managers and vendors are looking to improve performance and differentiate their organizations from the competition.

The Urgent Care Association of America is the established voice of the urgent care industry, actively advocating for clinicians and centers at the state and national level, while providing thought leadership to media, the public and other colleagues in healthcare. One simple way to rise up in the industry is by joining UCAOA and optimizing all of the benefits that come with membership.

Why Choose UCAOA?
Any membership to a professional healthcare organization comes with its perks. What sets UCAOA apart is the specific focus on the urgent care industry in all educational programs, professional opportunities, business networks and management resources. As host to two of the most comprehensive and well-attended urgent care conferences each year and its ongoing education programs, UCAOA brings together industry leaders to share research and brainstorm with colleagues on how to advance the industry as well as the performance of the individual center.

By joining UCAOA, urgent care professionals can stay up-to-date on the latest trends and best practices in the industry, connect with colleagues and thought leaders, reach key decision-makers and strengthen their bottom lines. UCAOA continually creates exclusive resources and opportunities for members to meet the specific needs of the on-demand medical practice.

For Clinicians
Individual clinician members have access to an extensive list of CME opportunities and education programs – which include both in-person events and online courses to ensure accessibility for any schedule. These resources are designed by both urgent care and specialty leaders for urgent care professionals, providing unique industry insights that help elevate skills and advance your career.

For Centers
Urgent care center members can learn how to improve negotiations and contracts with payers through a growing library of data and best practices found on the Payer Relations page of the UCAOA website. Members can review the latest tips from industry thought leaders on how to demonstrate the value of urgent care to payers. In fact, many payers are calling on centers to achieve urgent care-specific accreditation or certification. UCAOA can help you succeed through a variety of targeted resources.

For Practice Managers
Practice manager members can improve their recruitment and retention efforts with a discounted rate for posting job opportunities on the UCAOA Career Center, an urgent care-specific jobs center. In addition, practice managers can utilize a growing number of free or discounted industry resources and toolkits that provide instant assistance in areas such as marketing and staffing. Look for the policy of the month and UC Prac*toids to benchmark or enhance your center’s performance and stay current with the mercurial state of healthcare.

For Vendors/Suppliers
Vendor members enjoy priority access to urgent care centers across the country through sponsorship opportunities at the leading industry events, as well as direct list mail rental options. Through the list rental program, vendors can educate the industry by sharing their data and resources via mail or email, or showcase the latest products and/or services available that are designed to enhance urgent care operations. They get their name in front of the targeted audience, which drives efficiency and results.

These are just a few of the benefits enjoyed by UCAOA members. For a complete list of benefits available with membership, please visit the UCAOA website’s Members section: ucaoa.org/benefits. We cannot advocate and advance our important agenda without your support. We do our work, so you can focus on yours!

 

 

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Tags:  CEO  clinical  Membership  on-demand services  payer  practice management  UCAOA  urgent care center 

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Next Steps to Success: Distinguishing Your Center with Accreditation or Certification

Posted By Laurel Stoimenoff, Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The on-demand healthcare industry is in a state of growth and diversification. Increasing competition and choices make it difficult for patients to know where to go for the best care. One way to differentiate from the rest in terms of excellence is by achieving accreditation.

UCAOA Accreditation was developed by urgent care professionals with the nuances and uniqueness of the urgent care center in mind. It is the only accreditation that also recognizes and requires a distinct urgent care scope of services. UCAOA also offers certification for urgent care centers, either exclusively or for those on the path toward accreditation. Certification is based solely on the scope of services available to the community. UCAOA has recently expanded its certification options from traditional and pediatric certification to recognize the seasonal-, rural- and occupational medicine-focused urgent care centers. 

Those centers who successfully pursue accreditation are dually recognized as Certified (scope) and Accredited (quality & safety) Urgent Care Centers.

Why Pursue UCAOA Accreditation?

Efficiency and Engagement

The accreditation process helps urgent care centers develop and implement consistent procedures across all sites. When meeting the standards become routine practice, centers benefit from unanticipated efficiencies; including staff in the values of quality and safety may develop more engaged, customer-focused employees. Similarly, achieving accreditation requires teamwork that generates a sense of pride and accomplishment.

Examples of key quality and safety procedures required to achieve accreditation include:

·         Verification of patient identity before providing care;

·         Precautions to prevent medical errors;

·         An overarching quality plan;

·         An infection control and prevention plan; and

·         Demonstration of integrated care processes.

Accreditation demonstrates that centers have achieved excellence in eight critical areas:

·         Patient care processes;

·         Patient privacy/rights/responsibilities;

·         Scope of care;

·         Physical environment;

·         Health record management;

·         Quality improvement;

·         Governance; and

·         Human resources.

Marketing

Armed with mobile devices, consumers are more likely to search and select providers based on quality and service perceptions. UCAOA Accreditation is a trustworthy “seal of approval” for patients. Accredited centers undergo site surveys to ensure they meet established and defined standards, giving patients the confidence that the center has demonstrated its commitment to excellence.  Accredited centers market their achievement to payers and networks as well as prospective referral sources such as pharmacists, physicians, school nurses, employers, and risk managers.

Revenue & Profitability Impact

Many payers are requiring accreditation before contracting or as an in-network requirement. As examples, members have notified us that BCBS of Georgia and Empire BCBS in New York now require accreditation for new urgent care centers, while Anthem in Virginia intends to do the same for new and existing centers in the coming year. As a result, applications for accreditation are on the rise.

Medical malpractice insurance carriers are recognizing UCAOA Accreditation for its impact on quality and safety, with some offering organizations a risk management credit of 2.5 to 15 percent once attained.

Not Ready to Commit to Accreditation Right Now? Consider a First Step: UCAOA Certification

While it is most cost-effective to pursue certification at the same time as accreditation, the UCAOA Certified Urgent Care (CUC) program can be a first step on the path to accreditation. It affirms the urgent care center's scope of practice meets UCAOA criteria for easy access and scope of services. In one state, certification allows the urgent care center to receive higher reimbursement through the state’s workers’ compensation fee schedule. 

UCAOA is proud of the number of centers who have successfully attained both certification and accreditation. There are many ways to demonstrate a commitment to quality and safety but we can assure you that these individuals are doing their part to raise the bar! 


Learn more about UCAOA Accreditation and Certification

Tags:  accreditation  bcbs  ceo  certification  payer  quality of care 

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Using Patient Engagement Technology to Meet New Expectations in Population Health Management

Posted By Laurel Stoimenoff, Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Population health strategies aim to improve the quality of care for communities, not just our traditional approach of caring for the individual. Urgent care plays a crucial role in population health management by optimizing efficiency, quality and outcomes throughout the continuum of care, while also expanding patient access.

Managing population health brings new financial risks when it comes to patient care, linking the patient experience and outcome directly to payment. In order for urgent care centers to succeed within the financial landscape of these new models of care, patient engagement will be key.

Patient Engagement Technology

Innovative technologies enable management of population health strategies by capturing, tracking and sharing patient data. The role of urgent care providers has evolved to include developing interactive relationships between physicians, patients, ancillary caregivers and technology beyond the exam room. Patient engagement technology can increase patient satisfaction and involvement throughout the continuum of care to improve clinical outcomes.

For urgent care providers, patient engagement technology has many benefits including:

·         Improving care coordination between other providers

·         Supporting a medical model that leverages the role of the urgent care center beyond episodic care

·         Enabling more informed diagnosis and treatment decisions for enhanced quality of care

·         Equipping patients with information to support a more active role in their healthcare management

·         Reducing errors and increasing administrative efficiency throughout the continuum of care

As healthcare becomes an increasingly information-driven, patient-centric industry, it is imperative for urgent care providers to stay on the cutting-edge of patient engagement technology innovations to ensure interoperability with other providers and secure fair, consistent and predictable reimbursement rates. 

Increasing Patient Engagement

According to a 2016 CDW Healthcare survey, 57 percent of patients and 70 percent of providers reported an increase in patient engagement over the past two years. Patients are increasing the frequency of communication with providers and accessing their healthcare information with greater ease. The motivations driving providers to improve engagement include meaningful use requirements, technology advancements, the opportunity to improve clinical outcomes and a more loyal patient population.

To make engagement technology accessible to all patient populations, consider each patient’s unique healthcare journey. Here are some tips:

1.       Develop digital expertise on the engagement options available and select the right technology to meet the needs of your target patient population.

2.       Present the technology with step-by-step instructions, demonstrations and big-picture visual communication tools to demonstrate how it works and its benefits to the patient.

3.       Offer mobile-optimized technology so the patient can access information on-demand from anywhere. Provide patients on-demand access to on-demand caregivers. Access to care has been key for most urgent care centers and it will extend beyond the ability to offer a face-to-face office visit in the future.

4.       Encourage and demonstrate continual use of technology by providing ongoing education and timely responses to patient communication.

5.       Seek feedback at every opportunity to understand where patient pain points are with the technology and how best to improve the experience.  

With a more engaged patient population, technology can help urgent care providers gather useful information for better predictive analytics around patient health, assist in more effective interventions in the future and improve data-driven outcomes as an essential provider in a broader healthcare delivery system. Likewise, patients can utilize the technology to access information and share responsibility in their healthcare, while enjoying a more fluid experience throughout the continuum of care. It’s a win-win.

Tags:  CEO  patient engagement  patient experience  technology 

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