The traditional patient will soon be a thing of the past.
The new normal for busy patients is to fit healthcare visits when and where possible in an already packed schedule. Patients are doing their homework and demanding options from providers that best fit their lifestyles and budgets.
This patient demand is translating to sales booms in retail healthcare locations and a nationwide flurry for healthcare systems to corner their markets.
The Growth of Retail Healthcare
A recent Harris Poll noted that over the last 12 months more than 1 in 5 people sought treatment at a retail healthcare location. The demographics of the patients varied widely, as did the services sought.
More than half of the respondents reported going to a retail clinic for common ailments like allergies, colds, infections and migraines/headaches. Almost a third said they received a health screening. Other key services included flu vaccines, physicals and general health assessments.
In response, many healthcare systems are quickly expanding their retail services to capitalize on the demand.
Understanding the Business of Retail Healthcare
Retail healthcare is a paradigm shift for many established systems, but the proven benefits have shown the initial startup costs are worth the return.
Beyond increased revenue, additional benefits include community goodwill, increased specialty referrals and improved patient care. When successful, retail healthcare can feed ongoing visits back into the system – an entry point for administrators looking to funnel traffic.
However, these benefits require the system to successfully balance the needs of a retail healthcare business with core operations.
To manage the additional locations and patients, administrators are tapping into the surge of NP and PAs entering the workforce. This allows the retail healthcare location to focus on mid-levels treating common complaints during convenient, extended hours, and then triaging complex care back to the health system.
Optimizing the Business with Retail Healthcare
Expanding into retail healthcare doesn’t have to be daunting. Below are simple tips to successfully start or grow patient care options.
- Start with a mobile clinic. Take the outreach to your patients during special events. Focus on rural areas or underserved populations.
- Offer free screenings. Screenings for skin cancer, allergy, or blood sugar are great ways to drive referrals and increase traffic. Plus, many screenings can be performed by specialty support staff, reaffirming the system’s commitment to the community.
- Extended office hours. Don’t wait for a separate location; test the waters during off hours in your established primary care offices.
- Provide satellite locations in businesses or schools. Leverage community partnerships by providing care directly in high-traffic areas. Create special events like a sports physical day.
Protecting your Core Operations
Diversifying the patient experience is good business, but it runs the risk of alienating existing staff and stretching core operations too thin.
Administrators must walk the line of providing continuous coverage for patients and pushing staff too far. This risk will grow as the demand for skilled physicians and the shortage of doctors increases with every graduating class.
Partnering with a locum tenens provider is a cost-saving solution with high returns. Quality locum tenens companies will ensure coverage while minimizing staff burnout.
Before starting a retail healthcare location, make sure you have a reliable locum tenens provider in place to help manage the increased business, especially as your system looks to scale and expand services in the community.
Contact NextLocums today to see how locum tenens can improve medical hiring for you. We have expertise in growing urgent care business and can help you find staffing solutions to improve patient care and boost retail healthcare visits.