As a healthcare facility with aspirations of becoming the health care provider of choice in Bedford, Community Hospital stands to move a step closer towards achieving this mission with the establishment of an off-site urgent care center at the local mall. Studies have shown that there is an increasing preference for episodic primary care services by patients compared to primary care services. The surge in interest in urgent care services has been driven by the ease of access to health care, an overflow of primary care patients, unlimited service hours, and short waiting times among other factors (Laws & Scott, 2008; Coster et al., 2017). Therefore, venturing into urgent care services will offer unique opportunity for Community Hospital to tap into an increasingly growing health care segment and grow its market reach while also growing its bottom line. The hospital can achieve greater success with the new venture by harnessing the power of technology. The following are three recommendations on services, technologies and hours of work that Community Hospital can implement at the proposed off-site urgent care center.
The proposed off-site urgent care center will be strategically positioned to utilize the emerging trend of increasing demand for walk-in health care services (Laws & Scott, 2008). The center will handle urgent non-life threatening illnesses and injuries which require immediate medical attention but does not qualify as emergency cases. One of the primary services that the center will offer is diagnosis, treatment and management of different non-life threatening pain such as backaches, headaches, and earaches. The facility will also specialize in offering walk-in diagnosis and treatment of mild and moderate cases of breathing complications such as pneumonia, eye infections, bronchitis, and asthma. Under the diagnosis and treatment of illnesses service portfolio, the off-site urgent care center will also serve patients suffering from allergies, coughs, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and urinary tract infections (UTIs). The physicians at the center will also offer treatment services for dehydration, rashes, viral infections, flu, eye infections, and skin infections.
The center will also offer treatment services for injuries sustained as a result of falls, accidents, sprains, minor burns, and skin lacerations. Founded on the Community Hospital’s commitment to serving the local communities, the center will tailor these treatment services to meet the unique needs of different demographics. The urgent care center services will target different populations including athletes, orthopedic patients and the elderly. In addition to these treatment services, the center will also specialize in physical examinations for pre-employment, sport participation and school admission qualification. These market segments form a significant proportion of Bedford’s population. The center’s occupational health services portfolio will extend beyond physical examinations. Employees and employers within the target market will benefit from vaccinations and screenings for different diseases. Important diagnostic services such as lab tests, MRI, X-ray, and CT scans as well as surgery will also be offered at the center to facilitate quality health care services delivery. This range of services will ensure that the center the relevant accreditation thresholds as set out by professional bodies and industry regulators.
One of the primary drivers of the growing popularity of urgent care service facilities is their hours of operations. The facilities operate on a flexible schedule unlike the time limitations commonly found in primary care facilities. Therefore, the off-site urgent center proposed by Community Hospital will operate in a 24-hour basis including holidays and weekends. This will ensure the center offers a round-the-clock quality urgent care services at the convenience of the patients. Its location within the mall will also add a touch of convenience for the patients and their loved ones. They can come for shopping at the mall while also maintaining their doctor’s appointments. While the choice of operating hours is primarily driven by convenience reasons, the decision to operate seven days a week is in line accreditation standards set by industry regulatory and professional bodies such as Urgent Care Association of America (UCAOA).
In addition to electronic health records as mandated by industry regulations, Community Hospital’s off-site urgent care center will incorporate the use of a wide variety of equipment and technologies. One such technology is Patient Portals/Web which will allow for ease of access to health care services including scheduling of appointments, online billing option, direct communication with physicians and checking of medical examination results. The portal will increase patients’ electronic connectivity with the facility while also attracting millennials. The projected cost for setting up the system is $10,000. The facility will also need an MRI machine which will cost $3 million inclusive of installation and building of its suite. The X-ray machine will cost $150,000 while a dual-slice CT scanner is projected to cost $200,000.
Type of Corporation
The proposed center should operate as a non-profit department of the Community Hospital. As a community hospital, the proposed center will benefit the local community through better health care services. In return, it will stand to benefit from tax exemption by both the federal and local state governments (Herring et al., 2018). In addition to its 501(c)(3) status, the center will operate as a department of the Community Hospital. This will help in making referrals to emergency and critical medical cases.
Coster, J. E., Turner, J. K., Bradbury, D. & Cantrell, A. (2017). Why do people choose emergency and urgent care services? A rapid review utilizing a systematic literature search and narrative synthesis. Acad Emerg Med., 24(9):1137 – 1149. doi: 10.1111/acem.13220
Herring, B. et al. (2018). Comparing the value of nonprofit hospitals’ tax exemption to their community benefits. Inquiry, 55. doi: 10.1177/0046958017751970
Laws, M. & Scott, M. K. (2008). The emergence of retail-based clinics in the United States: Early observations. Health Affairs, 27(5). Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.1377/hlthaff.27.5.1293