April 2016: Tough Talk Around Walk-in Medicine – The Top-10 Focal Points for Hospital-Based Urgent Care Operators

As a management consulting firm for hospital systems and large medical groups, we’ve seen a lot of behavior that we know won’t cut it in the walk-in world over the next decade. And as “outside experts” we are often asked to deliver some tough talk around the harsh reality of how our clients compare to the rest of the market. Those are difficult meetings, particularly with primary care physicians whose practices have been turned upside down and who have virtually no time to think strategically about the future. When it comes to walk-in medicine, hospitals and their employed medical groups are having a hard time.  

It’s not that system leadership and middle management are oblivious to how strategic walkin medicine is or that competition is moving into their service area. Quite the contrary; they are scrambling to get their act together. But there are usually two fundamental issues: First, while the employed medical groups of health systems, particularly the primary care providers, are seeking to promote access, they also remain stuck in what we call the “my patient-my approach” mindset. Second, this “my patient” mindset tends to result in each physician office going its own way in how it addresses access. And if there is a leadership vacuum, the result is that patients view your walk-in offering as confusing and chaotic.

This article is about executing on a business model that is as much a hospitality business as it is a health care business. That means getting the details right not just on the clinical side of the house, but on the facility, the finances, the team, and the marketing. Here’s our take on the "Top 10" most important focal points for competing in the world of walk-in medicine...