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If patients walk out the door because the wait in your clinic is too long, that doesn’t have to signal lost business. You can still capture the revenue that would have been generated on the spot and maintain good customer service by encouraging them to visit another of your company’s locations. Take Intermountain Healthcare (IHC), which operates 31 InstaCare/KidsCare centers across Utah. Within the Salt Lake Valley, these urgent care locations are typically no more than 10-15 minutes apart from one another. By making current wait times for all locations available online, as well as posting wait times for the presenting and nearby centers digitally in the waiting room, IHC lets patients choose to minimize their wait by utilizing a nearby location with a lesser wait time. For instance, upon discovering a 40-minute wait at one location, a patient may choose to drive 10 minutes more for a 5-minute wait. Considering that wait times are the number-one cause of patient complaints in urgent care, patients who feel “in control” by having options as to whether and where to wait tend to be more satisfied with their urgent care experiences. In addition, posting wait times for all locations helps balance patient loads across the walk-in sites, thus improving staff and provider utilization and reducing excess capacity across the network. And certainly this information helps keeps patients within Intermountain’s network, as opposed to balking at InstaCare wait times and fleeing to a competitor. The online offering is augmented by “virtual queuing,” allowing the patient to hold his/her space in line and be contacted by text message about 15 minutes prior to when the doctor will be available to see them.

Alan A. Ayers, MBA, MAcc
VP, Strategic Initiatives, Practice Velocity, LLC;
Practice Management Editor,
JUCM—The Journal of Urgent Care Medicine

Patients Can’t Wait? Try to Keep Them ‘in the Family’

Alan A. Ayers, MBA, MAcc

President of Experity Consulting and is Practice Management Editor of The Journal of Urgent Care Medicine
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