Urgent care thrives on repeat visits and positive word-of-mouth from loyal patients. Although many urgent care centers track the percentage of new vs established patients—those who have been seen in the past 3 years—few measure frequency of use by individual patients. This is an important measure used in other service businesses, however, based on the assumption that customers who patronize their favorite businesses more often also spend more money, and encourage others (either in person and online) to patronize the business as well.

A Practice Velocity study of over 5 million urgent care encounters by 3.4 million patients in 2016 provides insight to the utilization patterns of urgent care patients.

With E&M code, to exclude flu shots, rechecks, and physicals, private payers only.)

The “average” urgent care patient depicted in the left-hand column utilizes a center 1.4 times per year, or approximately every 8–9 months. The “repeat” or “loyal” urgent care patients represented on the right visit the urgent care center approximately 2.7 times per year—or, once every 4 months or so. (This eliminates one-off users to provide insight on utilization of loyal patients.)

By offering quality medical care with good outcomes, getting patients in and out of the center quickly, treating patients with enthusiasm and respect, and eliminating hassles around registration and billing processes, urgent care operators are in a great position to foster patient loyalty, resulting in more frequent visits, which in turn equates to greater revenue for the center.

Ideally your urgent care center will become the provider of first choice, or the place the patient thinks of—and visits—when a minor medical need arises.

How often do patients utilize urgent care?
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