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

Posted By Laurel Stoimenoff, PT, CHC, Friday, March 31, 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.

Join us at the Urgent Care Convention & Expo April 30 – May 3 to learn more about the evolving role of technology in urgent care. 



Laurel Stoimenoff, PT, CHC, is chief executive officer of the Urgent Care Association of America

Read more of Laurel's insights in her CEO column in the April issue of the Journal of Urgent Care Medicine.

Tags:  engagement  patient care  technology 

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Beyond Access: Redefining Your Value Proposition

Posted By Laurel Stoimenoff, PT, CHC, Monday, March 13, 2017

By Laurel Stoimenoff, CEO of Urgent Care Association of America, published in March 2017 JUCM


Urgent care centers were the creators of convenient access to care for non-life and limb-threatening illnesses and injuries. Consumers embraced the convenience and the rest of the world noticed. New delivery models catalyzed by growing expectations for on-demand services have provided those seeking healthcare services more options than ever before.  If you are feeling the impact, it may be a manifestation of the successful model you developed and now others are electing to modify or mirror it. To ensure that urgent care continues to thrive in the new on-demand marketplace, we must ask ourselves what we can do to renew our value proposition.

 Where we begin remains as steadfast as ever: make sure the focus stays on the needs and expectations of the patient.

To do this, we must know what today’s patient is seeking and anticipate what tomorrow’s consumer will expect. With many choices for ready access to care, why choose urgent care?

Convenience is Still Key

More than ever, convenience is a driver for healthcare decision making. Customers seek prompt, quality service that is most easily integrated into their busy lives. Urgent care continues to lead on this main value proposition – the 2016 UCAOA Benchmarking Survey found 92 percent of urgent care patients waited 30 minutes or less to be seen by a practitioner last year, and 90 percent of visits took 60 minutes or less to complete.

While telemedicine, retail and other on-demand services are also finding niche roles in the continuum of care, urgent care remains a necessity due to our combination of broad scope of services, fast delivery of care and great value. Studies indicate this trifecta of convenience will remain extremely important to the customer of the future – the millennials.

A UCAOA survey from 2016 revealed millennials prioritize cost-savings and accessibility when making healthcare purchasing decisions. It is no surprise then that a study from the Health Industry Distribution Association (HIDA) showed 43 percent of millennials reported using an urgent care center in the last year.

Embrace Technology

Technology is no longer a supplement to our business – it is driving our business as connectivity and accessibility are the new normal. And patients now grasp the value of on-demand services and integration of technology to simplify their healthcare services.

Technology can impact the customer experience at every stage of the patient visit. Time-saving check-in processes conducted online are becoming commonplace, as are providing patient alerts when a practitioner is ready to see them. Likewise, many urgent care centers are integrating telemedicine capabilities into their operations to make better use of the medical providers when there are lulls in patient traffic.

Finding ways to improve our customer-centric service is a priority throughout the industry, and will be a continued educational focus at the Urgent Care Convention & Expo in National Harbor, MD, April 29 – May 3. Experts and peers will highlight how technology can help urgent care centers capitalize on new opportunities, and what to expect in the next decade of health innovation. We will discuss how best to cultivate healthy interactions with patients using current technologies, and why this engagement is vital to urgent care’s future growth and success.

Prioritize Patients Over Process

In an effort to stay innovative with the latest technology, urgent care centers often adjust their service model to accommodate the demands of payers, technology providers or other third parties. Allowing these roadblocks to get in the way of delivering the optimum, on-demand care that patients are actively seeking out would betray the foundation urgent care was built on: convenience and accessibility. If the tail is wagging the dog, it’s time to step back and re-evaluate.

Look Back to Move Forward

As the market for on-demand healthcare continues to grow, urgent care must lead the way in efficiency, convenience and a consumer-focused experience.

The upcoming UCAOA Convention & Expo in April will highlight market insights on the state of urgent care now and in the future. We will analyze industry developments over the past year, and brainstorm how they will form the foundation of health service business models as patient needs and expectations continue to evolve.

To ensure our path forward stays the most relevant, we may need to take a step back, identify and eliminate barriers, before pressing forward with a renewed focus on consumer needs and operational efficiency. 

Tags:  accessibility  connectivity  on-demand services  patient care  telemedicine 

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