If you are a physician working in an urgent care center, improving the immediate health of your patients is at the top of your priority list. Your patient-centered practice provides a safe, welcoming, stress-free environment. You provide services after hours and on weekends, offering a much needed convenience to your patients.
Patients can even save money by visiting an urgent care versus an emergency room when their primary care physician’s office is closed.
If you haven’t started already, providing ancillary services in your urgent care can set you apart from other urgent care centers. And with every ancillary service you provide, you can expect to receive an increase in revenue.
Providing ancillary services is on the rise in many urgent care centers and most services typically have a strong return on investment, and can significantly improve patient satisfaction.
There are multiple ancillary services that can benefit patients, but not all are beneficial in an urgent care setting. You want to ensure the services you provide are a good fit for both the urgent care and the patients.
Before making choices, it is important to have a good definition of what ancillary services are and how they can help you.
Ancillary Services Explained
Ancillary services allow you to provide in your practice many of the diagnostic tools you need and also make life easier for your patients.
Services may include providing x-rays, collecting blood and urine samples and their corresponding tests, and a variety of therapies.
To figure out the ancillary services that meet the needs of your practice, begin considering the many actions you perform during patient visits. Most services can be categorized as either diagnostic, therapeutic or custodial.
These are discussed in further detail below.
Diagnostic Ancillary Services
In the past, patients would get orders from a physician who needs tests and images to help make an accurate diagnosis. The patient would then travel to a separate imaging facility or laboratory to receive these services and the doctor would wait for the results. All the while the patient waited on results and further instruction. This could sometimes take days and was not easy on the patient or the doctor.
Fortunately, this is no longer the case. By installing ancillary services; laboratory testing, DNA testing, ultrasounds, radiology, and diagnostic imaging can be done on the spot in your urgent care center.
Therapeutic Ancillary Services
Physical and occupational therapies are common ancillary services considered to be therapeutic. Both can help patients overcome an injury or ailment physically so they can have a better quality of life. The advantages of these rehabilitation therapies can range from helping patients regain strength to helping patients walk again.
Additional therapies include massage, chiropractic, and even speech therapy for patients who need it.
While all of these may not be a good fit for an urgent care, you may want to add one or more that can meet the needs of patients with more specific needs.
For example, if many of the patients you see have sports related injuries like muscle sprains, adding a therapist who specializes in this area can save your patients much time and money seeking help. Or, if many of your patients complain of back pain, having a chiropractor or massage therapist on staff can offer them quick relief.
Custodial Ancillary Services
Technically, urgent care centers are considered custodial ancillary services because of the great benefits you provide to caregivers and their loved ones who often need treatment in a timely manner due to an unexpected occurrence.
To improve in this area, simply continue to provide skilled assistance to those in need. You could also provide durable medical equipment that caregivers and patients may not have easy access to in emergencies.
Selling durable medical equipment at the point of care is an advantage for every patient. It’s also an easy way to boost revenue for the urgent care center.
Durable Medical Equipment
Patients visit you for many reasons: broken bones, sprained ankles, back pain, and more. After your diagnosis and before their discharge, you can provide your patients with durable medical equipment and supplies that can help in their healing and maintain their functionality.
Wheelchairs, scooters, walkers, canes, blood pressure monitors, blood sugar monitors, bandages, gauze, and safety bars are just a few examples of durable medical equipment and supplies.
You make money by marking up the price of the item to increase your revenue but can keep the cost lower than pharmacies, so your patients benefit also. Your patients will appreciate the convenience of receiving these items at the time of their visit.
Providing durable medical equipment as an ancillary service can lead to an even better service, in-office dispensing.
In-office dispensing means you write a prescription for your patient, and you fill that prescription in your urgent care center at the point of care. The patient leaves your office visit with their prescription in hand.
Many urgent care centers have seen patient satisfaction quickly increase because they can avoid the pharmacy, which can take hours before receiving their medication, and no one likes to go anywhere when they are feeling really sick.
By dispensing medicine at the point of care, you are offering a major benefit to your patients. Plus, dispensing gives you a chance to show the patient how to properly use their medication and why it is important that they take it. This allows you to feel more confident the patient understands your instructions.
When patients understand why they need to take the medication and when it is easy for them to obtain, they follow-through. Meaning, their health outcomes will improve.
In-office dispensing is easy to set up, comes with streamlining software, round the clock technical help, and helps you maintain compliance with state and federal regulations.
The best ancillary services for an urgent care are the ones that help you keep the patient-centered focus you need. Think about which services are used by your patients the most. Then think about the services that offer the most benefits for your urgent care center.
Then, go for it. Your patients will thank you for it.