Walk-in medical centers first started showing up in 2000. By 2016, there were over 2,000 clinics in operation across the United States—and that number is only continuing to grow.
If you’re wondering how to start an urgent care clinic of your own, you’ve come to the right place. The following are two of the most critical things to consider about starting your own urgent care business.
What Unique Features Will Your Urgent Care Startup Offer?
Your passion may be for helping people heal and recover from trauma, but let’s be honest: your goal as a business-person is to launch a profitable urgent care business.
And it’s true across practically all business categories that, unless what you do is different from what everyone else is doing, no one will come to you instead of the competition.
So the question is, what will set your urgent care apart from everyone else? What is your unique selling proposition (or USP)?
Your USP might be that you focus your practice and marketing towards athletes, and you’re located next to a gym or a beach.
It might be being open after typical working hours, and your target audience could be people that work late or play sports after work.
Or it could be specialized offers that go beyond basic urgent care, such as assistance for people struggling with weight loss or recovering from drug addictions.
How Much Does it Cost to Start an Urgent Care?
Launching an urgent care startup is like building any other business—it starts with months of careful research, planning, and development, and at last, a leap of faith.
Besides having good, trustworthy information to back up your plans, you’ve got to have the financial capital to realize those plans. This may come in the form of a bank loan, investments made by friends and family who believe in you, or out of your own savings.
The question you’re likely wondering is, how much money are you going to need?
The answer to this question depends mainly upon three things: the location where you intend to launch your practice; the size of the building you need to meet your future patients’ needs; and the real estate arrangement you’re going to use.
First of all, the location for your urgent care is critical. Ideally, it needs to be easily-visible, in a high-traffic area.
Unfortunately, such spots can be hard to come by, and even harder to afford. However, if you have a competent practice, the right location can more than pay off in the long run.
Obviously, geography also has a considerable effect on the amount of money needed to launch. Cost of land is much higher in some areas than in others. Different states will also place differing expenses upon startup owners in the form of taxes and fees. City areas are typically much more expensive than rural areas.
Second, regarding the size of your urgent care startup. Urgent care clinics are, on average, roughly 3,000 square feet. However, the only factor that should determine the size of your clinic is not how big anyone else’s is, but how many patients you intend to serve at a time.
When it comes to choosing a better size or a better location, the location should always come first. It doesn’t matter how big your office is if no one can find it. On the flip side, if you have so much traffic that you can’t fit everybody who needs care inside at once, you’ll have a good reason to upgrade later on, once you’re actually making a profit.
Last, the cost will also be determined by your real estate arrangement. Are you going to lease a general-purpose building, build a brand-new clinic, or buy an existing office? You should carefully look into all of your options before choosing anything.
Most urgent care owners lease the space for their practice. Whatever you do, you’ll want to work closely with an architect who specializes in medical care centers. This will ensure that your original space or upgrades are compliant with medical and safety codes.
It’s estimated that the average urgent care startup involves a cost-to-launch of between $850,000 and $1 million. The good news, however, is that clinics also tend to break even and start turning a profit within a year and a half to two years.
Twin Cities, Minnesota, hosted the first-ever retail, a medical clinic in the United States. That was back in the year 2000. Since then, hundreds of urgent care consultants have opened their consulting businesses in various parts of the country. This has largely been fueled by the increasing demand for urgent medical services from the members of the public, especially in rural areas.
An urgent care center plays a vital role in offering quality medical attention to non-emergency medical treatments. However, it is essential to highlight that most of the medical issues handled in these facilities need timely treatment as well. There are many physicians-come entrepreneurs out there who are intending to open an urgent care clinic, but they do not know to go about it. Here are some of the critical factors that you need to put into consideration before starting an urgent care consulting facility.
For you to start a profitable urgent care business, you need to come up with a comprehensive business plan that organizes everything. You need to put everything into writing before you can plan on the next move. This is the most important stage of your venture, which means that you should spend time and money coming up with a realistic business. You need to know all the urgent care start-up costs and operational costs as well. It is at this stage that you will calculate the urgent care profit margin so that you can decide on whether to continue or not.
Decide on Model
Before starting your urgent care consulting facility, you need to understand the urgent care business model that you will put into practice. There are diverse business models out there that you can choose. For example, you can start an urgent care clinic that is physician-owned, start a franchise of local successful urgent care center, or even a joint venture with a hospital. Each model that you will choose has its own merits and demerits. Therefore, it would be important to consult business startup experts so that you can be sure that benefits outweigh costs.
Select the Services to Offer
The next most important stage in starting an urgent care consulting facility is selecting the services to offer to the community. Many injuries and illnesses need timely treatment. It is upon you to choose services that you are passionate about. Moreover, you need to ensure that the services that your clinic will be offering are coveted by the members of the community. Otherwise, your urgent care business will be operating on a loss.
The success of your urgent care consulting facility is dependent on your location. Finding the best location is one of the hardest things, especially for an urgent care startup. However, you should include this in the planning phase so that you can conduct feasibility studies and determine the best location. You need to start your facility in a needy community. A community that has been struggling to find urgent care consulting services in their region for a longer period.
Market Your Urgent Care Business
Every business has to market its services to the members of the community. Therefore, you have to come up with an urgent care marketing plan that will help you to create awareness of urgent care services to the locals. You need to start building awareness of an urgent care clinic before construction work begins. Focus on highlighting how the clinic will improve the community, so that you can attract a considerable number of patients once the facility starts running.
Work with Experts
After starting your operations, you need to keep close contacts with other experts in the industry. Working with professionals who have been in the business for a longer period will enhance your operations and improve service delivery. You need to learn from the best; especially those are operating successful urgent care consulting clinics. You also need to work with professionals from other industries so that they can give insight where necessary.
Finally, you need to work hard and show passion in your business. It's all about offering services to the customers. The success of the urgent care business depends on how it will be managed and how it will address the needs of the customers.
Did you know that interest in and usage of urgent care clinics is increasing? Per the Urgent Care Association (UCA), the United States added 650 urgent care centers -- an 8% increase -- from 2017 to 2018. Who knows what the next few years of growth will look like?
The UCA reported that there were close to 9,000 urgent care centers open and operating by the end of 2018. These clinics handle approximately 89 million patients per year. Why are so many consumers relying on urgent care clinics for their emergency and non-emergency medical needs? It is because urgent care center visits are much more convenient and affordable than the average trip to the emergency room or your primary care physician.
Patients have the opportunity to visit with a medical professional at a time that works with their schedule, and can avoid hospital or primary care provider red tape and long waiting times. The Urgent Care Association’s 2018 Benchmarking Report found that more than 70% of patients waited less than 20 minutes to see a medical professional at an urgent care center, and most waited less than 30 minutes.
Are you thinking of starting up a new urgent care business? Now is the time!
With the right urgent care center marketing strategy, urgent care start up checklist, and help from urgent care consultants, you can launch and run a growing and profitable urgent care business.
A reputable, urgent care consulting firm can partner with you to put together the right vision, strategy and urgent care start up checklist to help your new business succeed.
They can ensure your urgent care clinic is following updated government regulations including those required by OSHA and HIPAA.
Urgent care consultants can complete a review of your spend on equipment and supplies. They can then recommend opportunities for both savings and improvements in quality and customer service.
They can also complete an audit of your proposed policies and operating procedures. With these results they can recommend updates to your urgent care start up checklist that will increase speed, increase your urgent care profit margin and improve the services to your patients.
Urgent care centers can be a challenge to manage, particularly because it's hard to know what to expect at a walk-in style clinic. People come to urgent care clinics for a variety of care types, meaning no two days working at an urgent care clinic are going to be the same. Here are a few management tips that professionals consulting for urgent care centers recommend.
Be Ready For Anything
Unfortunately, almost nobody genuinely wants to visit an urgent care clinic or other medical facility. People come to urgent care clinics when they have to out of necessity, due to illness or injury. This means that you'll see people with all sorts of injuries or conditions coming into your clinic, from simple, easily solved problems to major injuries. Make sure you and your staff are prepared for some unique circumstances.
Know When To Refer
While it's important to be ready for just about anything, not all problems can be resolved during a visit to urgent care. Sometimes, your patients will need to take their injuries or illnesses to the emergency room, and it's important to refer them quickly when this happens. This ensures they're getting the medical care they need, while also not interrupting the flow of business at your urgent care business.
Consider Your Costs
One of the keys to running a profitable urgent care business is keeping your operation costs in mind. Generally speaking, some services tend to be more affordable at urgent care; the average cost of treatments at a retail clinic is approximately 30% to 40% less than at a physician's office. In order to maintain these prices, do what you can to keep your operational costs lower.
Get Outside Help
Managing an urgent care business takes work, and it's not always easy to know the right course of action. Consulting for urgent care centers can be incredibly useful for determining management techniques specifically for your care center.
Urgent care businesses can be difficult to run, but with the right help and tips, you'll be able to help patients through some of their more difficult struggles. For more information on consulting for urgent care centers, contact Intuitive Health today.