October 2016: ConvUrgentCare Technology Refresher – The Importance of Vision When Building an Urgent Care "Operating System"

By Bernie Kuhn and Crissy Carcamo

After several years of helping health systems develop and manage their urgent care platforms, we’ve come across some unique challenges. Many of these challenges are connected to the deployment and use of technology. But if we were to identify one common source of technology-related problems, it would be that management failed to connect its vision of the urgent care patient experience with the underlying technology architecture.

This high-level vision is critical and we call it the urgent care “operating system.” It is broader than the out-of-the-box practice management or electronic medical record systems that most IT vendors bring to the table because these systems are not tuned to do everything you will need over the next decade. It means spending more time and money at the front end, thinking through a model that creates that “Wow” experience for your on-demand patients. Though much of it involves technology, this kind of thinking impacts everything, from the size of the brick and mortar right down to the little things like how to design a counter for registration or the number of seats in the lobby. Thus, if you simply let technology drive your vision, you likely will end up with a center that reflects patient care 10 years ago. This month’s article is dedicated to the initial vision of your urgent care operating system, as well as the tactical technology and process design components that P&L owners must pay attention to.