Once the geese start heading south for the winter, retirees can’t be far behind. The question is, where’s home, medically speaking? Typically, these snowbirds (seniors who spend the warmer months in the states where they established their lives but head to southern climates for the winter) keep their “regular” doctors up north but don’t have close ties to medical care near their winter homes. Urgent care could be the perfect solution, however, especially if operators in the area are wise enough to structure and market their services accordingly.
Freestanding emergency rooms have already recognized the opportunity; West Florida Healthcare built a new $10 million freestanding ER in August after recognizing a 10% winter increase in visits by patients whose primary residence is outside. Given the controversy over that industry’s billing practices, it stands to reason that urgent care centers would be an appealing alternative for people who have a growing list of health concerns while living on a fixed income.
The key is to find them. Scour Facebook, local newspapers, and even bulletin boards at the grocery store to see what activities are being pitched to seniors in the area. Contact the organizers, and certainly local senior centers and service organizations, to ask if you can give a “lunch and learn” talk that highlights the services your urgent care center offers. For example, the push to vaccinate seniors for flu season starts in late autumn; many temporary transplants make the journey before they’ve had a chance to get their shots. Let them know you’re still ready to provide them.
Bear in mind that by making your presence known, you’ll not only be helping your business attract new customers, but offering peace of mind to patients and families who are probably just as eager to find you.