The increasing number of patients with immediate medical needs have created a market for walk-in urgent care clinics. At first hospital systems generally viewed the urgent care clinic phenomenon as welcomed relief to their over extended ER’s. These same hospital systems are now taking these urgent clinics for what they are – outright competition.
And, as Laura Landro of the Wall Street Journal's Health blog points out, retailers are rapidly retrenching their efforts to get into this lucrative game.
Competition is good for the consumer. Competition is heck for a hospital system. Here are 6 steps that will prepare your hospital system for victory in the urgent care battle ahead.
1. Know the patient. While this sounds simple it is not. As you are looking to either expand an existing urgent care network or start from scratch you need to define of your core patient. Demographic assumptions and surveys are historically applied in this effort. In the right situation (when there is very little on the line) these methods can be a step forward for some organizations. At Buxton we dig in and help organizations understand their patients by profiling psychographically (accounting for attitudes, finances, behaviors) exactly who their best patients are down to the household level. By going this extra mile – analyzing household level characteristics of your patients and prospective patients – you are able to map the results and you set yourself up for targeted marketing execution in support of your new urgent care locations on the back end. Bonus!
2. Know the competition. This can be as simple as seeing where the competition exists today and where you think they are going. However, by adopting and applying geo-spatial market analyses leading healthcare providers are gaining intelligence on bottom line competitive impacts, market share and core customer strategies.
3. Model performance and potential. Combine your newly gained patient and competitive insights into a performance forecasting model to help you identify trade areas rich with your core patients and which can also readily support your new urgent care facility without unduly cannibalizing your existing urgent care locations or hospitals.
4. Evaluate emerging threats. Overlay the locations of retailers which either have or soon may jump right into the urgent care game. See where they are located in relation to your best opportunities. Understand if their customer is your patient. Then beat them to the market.
5. Consider yourself gut-checked. By applying what you have learned in steps 1-4 you will be ready to identify your best opportunities and grow your urgent care business accordingly. Just think of all the referrals you will keep in network.
6. Don’t forget to apply what you learned about your patients and trade areas when it comes time to launch a targeted direct marketing campaign in support of those new urgent care locations. Winning the urgent care battle for market share is going to take a coordinated effort between your market planning and marketing staffs.