Recreating the Urgent Care Experience
Meet the Founders
Stephanie Trowbridge, MD
Dr. Stephanie Trowbridge is an emergency room physician, board certified in Emergency Medicine and EMS Medical Direction. Dr. Trowbridge graduated from Clemson University and received her Doctorate of Medicine from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine.
Mathew Trowbridge received his Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Clemson University and spent 7 years in the construction industry in project management and estimating & design. He earned his Professional Engineering License and completed the MBA program at the University of South Carolina.
The Business Challenge
“Our healthcare system is broken, and urgent care clinics are an important part of a solution in providing affordable and convenient access to high-quality care for our community,”
says Stephanie Trowbridge, MD, in a press release announcing the 2017 opening of her urgent care clinic.
While urgent care facilities are part of the solution, there’s a chronic problem with many of the urgent care clinics that have popped up over the last few years: The patient experience and administrative workflows are not optimized. Patients are left waiting, sometimes for hours, to be seen. At hospitals, where the wait times are generally longer, patients are more accepting of this. But when it comes to urgent care centers, patients are less forgiving.
A quick Yelp search anecdotally backs up these findings:
Had to wait 3 hours and 45 minutes to see the doctor
Long wait, but a lot of urgent cares are like this
Ridiculously long wait. Which was totally avoidable.
According to a 2017 UCA benchmarking report, 10% of patient visits in 2016 lasted longer than an hour, while only 1% of visits lasted between 21-30 minutes.
With Range Urgent Care, Stephanie and Mathew Trowbridge wanted to streamline the urgent care process and focus on a patient-centric model. After all, patients aren’t the only ones that feel the negative impact of an unoptimized urgent care clinic--in the age of online reviews, it can ruin an urgent care center’s online reputation, too.
Their challenge: How do they automate tasks not adding to the patient experience? How do they minimize patient waiting and rank in the 1% of urgent care clinics for patient visit times? How do they design an experience that builds rapport with patients, and encourages visitors to return the next time they need care?
Range knew they would have to reduce wait times, increase their transparency with customers, and rethink the handling of administrative tasks.
Today, 86% of Urgent Care clinics still do not accept appointments. This can leave patients with unpredictable wait times and no way to reliably schedule an appointment for a specific time in the future.
Range wanted to break that trend.
Millennials make up 25% of urgent care center visits, and “millennials expect on-demand access (online banking, online grocery shopping, etc)”.
What would happen if patients could reliably be seen when they walked in and predictably schedule appointments, even same-day, knowing they could stay on time with the rest of their day? What if they felt welcomed, heard, and cared for?
Range decided to design an urgent care facility that felt more like a coffee shop or a spa than a clinic. They would improve the patient experience and build better rapport by:
Decreasing wait times through automation and
Increasing provider time with patients via fewer contact points and better “bedside manner”
The improved patient experience would lead to an increase in repeat customers.
How Range Used a Spa Model to Improve Their Patient Experience
Range served herbal tea, coffee, and seltzer water to waiting patients. This hospitality was a step in the right direction, but it wouldn’t be enough.
They needed to address the urgent care clinic issues of reliability and predictability.
An appointment-focused workflow could make it easier to line up patient traffic and provider availability...But it’s not enough to let patients schedule appointments online with an easy-to-use interface--for patient satisfaction, Range would need to see their patients on time.
They found their answer in the DrChrono EHR platform.
Through the DrChrono EHR platform, the provider availability and patient traffic updated and synced in real time.
Range used this data to add a virtual queue onto their website. Updated in real time, this queue displayed accurate wait times for patients. Of course, this queue only works correctly when patients actually show up for their scheduled appointments.
For that challenge, Range used the automated reminder function in DrChrono. With the help of DrChrono, Range automated the sending of text message and email reminders to their patients regarding scheduled appointments. The feature also updated patients with changes in wait times.
Walk-ins were directed to sign in at a kiosk powered by DrChrono. These patients were immediately added to the database.
These functions let Range accommodate same-day appointment scheduling, walk-ins, and previously booked appointments without sacrificing on patient experience.
These features benefited Range staff, as well. With DrChrono’s help, Range staff could:
Balance their schedules with patient needs-- spending extra time when necessary without concern over a growing patient queue in the lobby
Provide care on time - or earlier than expected - creating a positive initial interaction
Spend less time dealing with wasted time blocks because of fewer no-show appointments
Staff knew the calendar they viewed in DrChrono on their iPads was the same calendar on the website, and any new appointment would immediately show up on their app.
Using iPad Compatibility for Streamlined Patient Care
The Trowbridges knew they had to ditch the intrusive, back-to-patient experience created by a stationary laptop or computer station.
After looking at a number of EHR platforms, Range found that DrChrono had the best native iPhone and iPad app build.
“All of our staff carry an iPad with them in and out of the patient rooms. They can easily chart while interacting with the patient and bring the iPad out of the room and dictate the rest of the note.”
This improved bedside manner was critical for patient care and satisfaction.
It also cut down on Range staff charting time--”Most of the charting is done by the time the patient leaves the clinic and worst case it’s done by the end of the shift.”
A Universal 5-Star Experience for Patients (As Reported on Yelp and Facebook)
The streamlined experience powered by DrChrono has exceeded patient expectations. “[Range] looked gorgeous (new and clean) and my experience there did not disappoint, I made an appointment online... While waiting for the PA (brief) I was offered hot herbal tea or LaCroix water...I was in and out in a mere 30 minutes”.
With the help of DrChrono EHR, Range has been able to flip the traditional urgent care model on its head. And the integrations compatible with DrChrono, help facilitate this increased online presence and online reputation.
Available integrations are able to send email or text messages to patients as soon as that patient leaves the practice. These messages prompt the patient to easily review their experience. These integrations reduce steps for doctors, since they don’t have to reach out individually to patients, and bolster the online presence of providers.
Range used DrChrono to design a clinic that has the predictability of a favorite coffee shop with the reliability and comfort of a spa. Patients had a more satisfying experience. Staff spent less time charting, and almost never had to take administrative work home with them (although DrChrono for iPhone makes that easy to do).
If you’re looking to avoid those business-breaking negative web reviews, DrChrono can help you deliver patient satisfaction on a customer-focused model. The right EHR isn’t all it takes to start and run a highly rated urgent care clinic, but it is a critical piece.
1) 2) 1 pg 12, 23 The 50th percentile of urgent cares had 4,032 annual hours of operations and the average hourly wage for registration staff is $16/hour.
Calculation is based upon minimum hours coverage without staffing overlap. 2017 Benchmarking Report, Urgent Care Association