Fast Path to Boosting Profitability: How Orthopedic Practices Can (Easily) Create a Walk-in Revenue Channel
Falling off a bicycle. Colliding on a playground. Even tripping down the stairs. Most of us are familiar with how quickly and unexpectedly orthopedic traumas can happen. In the blink of an eye, we might find ourselves sitting in the emergency room among a sea of injuries or suspected strep and ear infections, quite possibly for hours, waiting to be seen by whichever attending physician is on call. Or we try and avoid the hospital altogether by waiting it out or treating the problem at home, potentially creating greater harm without realizing it.
Neither scenario is ideal; yet, they might be the only options available – which creates an opportunity for enterprising orthopedic practices looking for new ways to engage with patients and, ultimately, grow the business. Specifically, practices can create their own walk-in clinics, where injured patients can immediately see a specialist – without a prior appointment, even outside of regular office hours. Such forward-looking facilities are employing automation through technology like the Patient Engagement Software to expand patient access at a time it’s needed most, which drives patient acquisition and loyalty, and fuels an entirely new revenue stream, without straining external resources.
Sounds great, right? Modernizing patient engagement and practice operations through technology can open a host of opportunities. But it requires the practice to define, early on, a strategy and roll-out plan that works best for them and their patients. Among the factors to consider are:
- Availability: Weeknights, weekends, certain days of the week? One of the first decisions a practice must make is when to offer walk-in services. Among the most critical criteria to consider are average patient or population profile (e.g., senior community versus young families with kids playing youth soccer or football), proximity to other walk-in clinics, physician and front-desk staffing schedules, etc. For many practices, the best approach is to start with a limited walk-in offering – perhaps one day a week – to gauge response and fine-tune service delivery before expanding further.
- Communication: What is the best way for a practice to let patients and the local community know that it’s offering walk-in services? How do they promote their availability without oversetting expectations around what to expect on-site and what procedures can be performed? Practices must be careful with how they refer to their services – for example, “walk-in” versus “urgent care” – to help patients better understand the extent of treatment they’ll likely receive and then decide where to go for help. At a higher level, some states even place restrictions on what services practices can administer in terms of walk-in care and how practices can refer to such services with their patients.
- Administration: Of course, introducing walk-in service will have its own incremental administrative requirements, whether the practice is simply looking to expand patient access during regular office hours, or extend that access into evenings and weekends. Either way, some degree of front-desk support comes into play – and this is where automation becomes the enabler. Practices can automate typical front-desk tasks, from check-in to eligibility verification to collection, via a patient engagement platform, like Clearwave, minimizing the impact on existing staff or the need to hire additional resources to cover walk-in patients. Upon arrival, patients can check themselves via their mobile phone or an on-site kiosk, providing or updating profile and insurance information through a series of easy-to-navigate touchscreens. They can even pay for services rendered at the end of the visit by swiping a credit card for anything not covered by insurance. No need for additional front-desk support during off-hours, and no backlog of patient documentation for staff members to process when they arrive for their shifts the next morning.
In an increasingly competitive healthcare industry where patients have greater control over how and where they receive care, adding walk-in capabilities is an excellent way for orthopedic practices to grow and retain their patient base, and boost overall profitability. The keys to a successful roll-out are thoughtful upfront planning and the right patient engagement technology platform to create a smooth, streamlined experience for both patients and staff.
For more information on the patient preferences and business opportunities driving practices to adopt walk-in service, watch the Clearwave on-demand webinar featuring Karrie Barbour, COO for CAO OrthoMaryland and Eric Anderson, COO for Clearwave.
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