The key attributes that have allowed urgent care to flourish are its ability to provide clinically excellent care in a way that is less time-consuming and lower cost than the emergency room, and more readily accessible than traditional office-based practices. That’s what we have to offer. The question is, how well does that match up with the rationale patients use when selecting their site of care? Pretty well, it turns out, if a new study published in Health Services Research is any indication. The survey reflects the views of more than 5,000 University of California Irvine employees who were asked to choose a care setting in 10 hypothetical scenarios. Perhaps surprisingly, out-of-pocket costs and wait time had “minimal impact” on their preferences compared with clinical factors and patient characteristics. These priorities still spoke in favor of urgent care for the participants, however. While most of the respondents chose “physician office visits” for chronic conditions and well-child visits, they opted for the ED or urgent care for clinically severe and time-sensitive scenarios. Appropriately, 69% said they would go to the ED if they were having chest pain; 42% said they’d go to urgent care for a deep cut. This shows many patients are getting more sophisticated in how they self-determine the severity of their complaints. The best way for you to understand why new patients selected your urgent care center as the right place to go would be to ask them. Their responses may correlate to the results of the data described here, or you may gain new insights into what appeals to the residents of your community. Either way, you’ll get answers that help with your marketing message and patient outreach initiatives.
Want to Know Why Patients Choose (or Don’t Choose) Urgent Care? Read This