An urgent care company in Texas is betting that taking urgent care directly to patients who can’t (or simply don’t want to) come to a center will ultimately help its business. Taking a page from the Marcus Welby, MD playbook, it’s sending doctors out to make house calls in vehicles boldly adorned with its logo, website, and phone number. While there may be some promotional value in having that car on the street, and the patients who receive and pay for a home visit will most likely have a positive feeling about the company, it’s important for you to weigh the potential downsides—one being the tricky economics of this model—before taking a similar leap.
Consider this: Provider labor is the top operating cost for an urgent care business. Where a physician in a clinic setting can see three or four patients in separate exam rooms over the course of an hour, driving from one patient’s home to the next would likely limit patient visits to one or two every hour—assuming traffic is light and the weather is good.
That inefficiency is compounded by the fact that this traveling provider is absent from your office location, meaning you’ve got to have someone else on hand for the patients who do make the trip to you. Then add the cost of vehicle upkeep and insurance.
Finally, there are concerns with the safety of your employees and risk to the business. A provider cannot control the home environment he or she will be visiting, which could pose myriad risks ranging from infection to sexual harassment allegations to robbery.
Proponents of house calls are quick to recognize the advantages. Take a look at the big picture, though, and the benefit of sending clinicians out on the road becomes less and less clear.