While the healthcare industry is constantly evolving, the shift from inpatient to outpatient care will continue to influence the industry in the years to come. As organizations remain focused on this outcome-based care model, one trend that will persist is the growth of urgent care.
Since 2014, the number of urgent care centers in the United States has grown by 23% according to the Urgent Care Association of America. As more patients seek this convenient and affordable care for minor health concerns, urgent care will present many new opportunities for healthcare organizations and providers alike. Providing care to nearly 160 million patients annually, the urgent care market is valued at over $15 billion.
“Urgent care is becoming an increasingly popular choice for patients seeking care for non-emergent health needs,” says Wendy Barton, Executive Vice President of Tandym Health. “Not only is it a lower-cost alternative to a trip to the ER, but it is more convenient. Due to this, we’re seeing an increasing number of hospitals and health systems along with medical groups and healthcare corporations investing in urgent care.”
As more of these facilities open across the country, hiring the appropriate staff to meet the demand for care will become an even greater issue than it is currently. “An urgent care facility needs a cohesive team of clinical and non-clinical staff to run effectively,” advises Wendy. “In today’s climate, however, there can be upwards of five urgent care centers in a 20-mile radius. Since you will all be competing for the same talent, your ability to set yourself apart from other healthcare employers is key. Maintaining an appropriate staff to patient ratio is also critical to creating a positive experience for all visitors—something that will encourage them to return for future health needs.”
Looking to attract and retain top physicians, advanced practitioners, and support staff for your urgent care facility? Take these 6 steps for urgent care staffing success:
Make faster, more competitive offers
Taking too long to make an offer—or not giving the best offer up front—can lead you to miss out on a candidate who has a better experience elsewhere. To ensure these practices don’t negatively impact your ability to secure talent, extend salaries or pay rates that are competitive with market trends; reduce the number of interview rounds; and make faster decisions.
Be open to alternative hiring strategies
Due to the increased demand for talent, the urgent care staffing solutions you have utilized in the past may not be as effective or efficient today. “This is where a temporary staffing strategy can be especially beneficial,” advises Wendy. “Turning to locum physicians or advanced practitioners when opening a new facility, for example, can give you the flexibility you need to evaluate patient volume before making a longer-term staffing commitment.” These practitioners can also help supplement full-time staff for per diem and seasonal hiring needs.
Offer flexible scheduling
Giving employees the opportunity to coordinate their own shifts based on their unique needs can help give you an edge over other organizations that are stricter about scheduling. Remember, this doesn’t just benefit the employee. Healthcare professionals who feel less stressed at home are often happier at work and more engaged with patients.
Have the right support + infrastructure in place
In a setting that has such high patient volume, burnout is a major concern for employees. “Many providers have had negative experiences with this in the past, so identifying an organization that operates efficiently will be a huge priority when job searching,” warns Wendy. “To mitigate their concerns, explain how you have the appropriate support and technology to maintain appropriate patient-provider ratios and keep the ship sailing.” Having these systems in place will also be key to improving employee wellness, and therefore, reducing turnover.
Provide a proper orientation
Prior to seeing any patients, all new hires should be properly trained on the urgent care center’s internal processes and electronic medical records system. “Failing to set up a new employee for success from the get-go not only slows down patient care, but also leaves a negative impression on the provider,” says Wendy. “While they may not be there in the long-run, this concept also applies to locums and other temporary staff. Those who do not get a well-rounded introduction will be less willing to return in the future or refer the facility to their network.”
Foster employee relationships
In such a fast-paced environment, it can be easy for your staff to put their heads down and focus on the work at hand. While patient care should always be a priority, cultivating a team-oriented environment can be just as important. “When employees feel part of a cohesive team, morale generally increases,” says Wendy. “This will not only help reduce turnover, but also facilitate stronger patient outcomes.”