By Dr. Benjamin Barlow, chief medical officer, Experity.
As we evaluate the healthcare landscape following the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly the urgent care (UC) industry, facilities have undergone significant transformation. Patient behaviors and economic factors have converged to reshape the way people perceive healthcare.
For urgent care, access to the use of reliable, accurate data is critical to inform intelligent decision-making and clinic success throughout dynamic market conditions and changing consumer preferences.
Part of this adaption centers around redefining expectations and benchmarks to measure success by leveraging data-driven insights to ensure that UC clinics continue meeting the evolving needs of their patient population.
Changing Patient Behaviors
In 2019, urgent care clinics were a familiar and reliable part of the healthcare ecosystem. Patients sought their services for minor injuries, illnesses, and a range of non-life-threatening conditions. During the pandemic, patients visited for COVID-related issues like testing, vaccinations, and respiratory care, but were hesitant to visit medical facilities for non-COVID conditions in fear of contracting diseases.
Now, UC clinics are vastly different as patient sentiment has again changed. This transformation can be attributed to shifts in patient behavior and the economic impact of healthcare decisions. Additionally, the end of the public health emergency (PHE) has stripped millions of Americans of their Medicaid coverage, further amplifying the issue of healthcare access, and adding to the uncertainty surrounding patient healthcare coverage.
According to a 2022 Gallup report, 38% of Americans delayed seeking medical care due to cost implications, marking a 12% increase from the previous year. This reflects the growing concerns surrounding healthcare affordability, having a profound impact on when and where patients seek medical attention. Rising deductibles, changes in insurance coverage, and the economic conditions following the pandemic have led individuals to reconsider their healthcare choices, often delaying care until conditions worsen and requiring costly emergency room (ER) visits.
The worsening of these cases is often preventable if patients seek care when they first notice symptoms, and UCs can help fill this gap as an alternative to an ER visit. With robust education through marketing initiatives, the value of a practice and the services it can provide throughout the community will ensure patients have the information needed to make educated decisions about their healthcare.
By Adam Steinberg, EVP client experience, Experity.
The popularity of urgent care has grown continuously over the past several decades, but in just the last few years, the U.S. market has exploded as more and more patients look for nonemergent care options that are more affordable, accessible and convenient.
For many patients, urgent care offers more flexible hours than traditional physician offices and provides care that is both faster and less costly than a visit to the emergency room. The benefits of urgent care were further accentuated by the COVID-19 pandemic, as clinics across the country swiftly adapted to meet the evolving needs of patients and proved that healthcare can be high-velocity, high-quality and accessible to the masses.
Urgent care clinics served a crucial role in providing accessible testing and vaccination for the COVID-19 virus. As a result of urgent care’s impressive response to this demand, its status in the broader healthcare continuum has elevated it to the care site of choice for millions of patients, leading to a significant rise in daily patient visit volumes and expanded expectations for clinics nationwide.
While patient demand and visit volumes continue increasing for U.S. urgent cares, as do staffing shortages. Keeping clinics fully staffed and ensuring staff satisfaction is a top priority for clinic leaders and owners to continue meeting growing patient demand. To better understand the industry’s most pressing growth and retention challenges, and to provide urgent care leaders with actionable insights to support staff satisfaction at their own practices, urgent care leaders across the country were surveyed in the spring of 2022 to reveal beneficial strategies to boost success in these areas and fundamental changes necessary for urgent care clinics to retain and attract talent.
Keeping Staff Satisfied by Meeting Their Top Needs
As demands on clinic staff increase, meeting and prioritizing employee needs is essential for retention. According to the responses from urgent care leaders surveyed about key initiatives they’ve implemented at their own clinics to keep staff happy on the job, the top two initiatives for increasing job satisfaction and retention were offering flexible scheduling and financial incentives.
Clinicians, radiologists, and front desk staff are some of the most difficult positions to fill at clinics right now, all of which are essential to a clinic’s day-to-day operations. Providing the desired incentives for clinic staff will help retain the current workforce and entice new talent to join the team – helping to maintain a fully staffed clinic that delivers on the promise to provide quality, accessible, on-demand care.
Warburg Pincus, a private equity firm focused on growth investing, has merged DocuTAP and Practice Velocity— two major contributors in the on-demand healthcare and urgent care space. The new organization will operate under the brand name Experity.
“We thank all of our clients and partners for the overwhelming enthusiasm and support since announcing our intent to merge,” said Dr. David Stern, CEO, Experity. “Not only is this an exciting time for Experity’s employees, customers and partners, but for the industry as a whole. We’ve all witnessed the evolution of urgent care and growth into nontraditional, on-demand healthcare. This merger is a reflection of industry growth and the need for solutions that can further power the patient-centered healthcare revolution. Patients have more choices than ever before, and the unification of these great brands will further enable current and future clients to deliver an unmatched patient experience.”
David Stern, former Practice Velocity CEO, has been named CEO of Experity. Eric McDonald, former DocuTAP CEO, will remain actively involved in the company’s future direction as a board member and strategic advisor.
“There are no limitations on what these two forward-thinking companies can do together as they continue to drive innovation during this crucial time in healthcare’s evolution,” said Eric McDonald. “I look forward to assisting the transition in my new role and am very enthusiastic about what the future holds for Experity.”
Serving more than 4,000 clinics from coast to coast, Experity will continue to support and invest in all current software platforms and services previously provided by the merging companies. In addition, customers of each company will have access to new services and solutions, such as patient engagement, teleradiology, business intelligence, remote patient registration and contracting/consulting.
“DocuTAP and Practice Velocity’s current customers remain our number one priority,” said Matt Blosl, Experity CRO, former DocuTAP CRO. “Both companies have always focused on providing amazing solutions and customer service — this will not change. In addition, the scale and resources of the combined company will empower us to speed up our pipeline of software production and significantly amplify our impact on the rapidly expanding urgent care industry.”
“These two distinguished companies have driven significant expansion in the on-demand healthcare space having been perennially recognized by Black Book and KLAS for excellence in the field,” said Andrew Park, managing director, Warburg Pincus. “Both organizations have helped urgent care providers carve out their own place in the increasingly diverse ecosystem that is healthcare. We expect to see continued, rapid growth in this area of healthcare, and we are confident that this newly-combined company will play a key role in shaping and defining the future of on-demand healthcare.”
Warburg Pincus led the financing for the transaction. Teleradiology Specialists, Clockwise MD, Urgent Care Consultants, Journal of Urgent Care Medicine and Institute of Urgent Care Medicine are also part of the deal. No other financial details have been disclosed.
Experity will maintain its existing locations and teams in Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Atlanta; Machesney Park, Illinois; and Phoenix as the company continues to drive strategic growth across offices.
To learn more about Experity, visit experityhealth.com.