7 Healthcare Facility Best Practices Every Urgent Care Should Know
Running an urgent care isn’t easy and there is a lot to keep track of. Every year the number of urgent cares continues to grow, and more people are choosing them as an alternative to emergency rooms. Whether you are starting up a new urgent care or looking to acquire and expand your footprint, here is what you need to know to keep your urgent care facility running smoothly, offer the best patient care, and keep up with daily compliance.
1. Have a good provider to assistant ratio
People go to urgent cares for a variety of reasons. Most of them are minor and don’t require the full attention of a licensed physician, but as you may already know, this isn’t always the case. Having a licensed physician allows you to prepare for most cases your facility treats. Some states require that the owner of the urgent care be a licensed physician, so be sure to check local laws surrounding this requirement.
Urgent cares typically have doctors with specialties in either emergency or family medicine. This provides the necessary oversight the physician assistants and nurses need to treat patients and prescribe medications.
2. Use an organized information management system
This might go without saying, but your facility is required to have an effective means of organizing patient information. This includes everything from the intake process, privacy, and how you disseminate information to patients after they leave your facility.
Because of the sheer volume of paperwork and information your facility needs to juggle, it would be a good idea to have an automated compliance management system. UptimeHealth is an easy to use software that not only removes the need for paper checklists, it also assists with the task of keeping track of compliance and medical equipment management.
3. Stay up to date with state and local laws
Facility and personnel requirements vary from state to state. You’ll find differing definitions of what constitutes an urgent care and what you need to operate one. This makes it critical that you stay up to date on local legislation impacting your facility.
For example, Texas requires you to be a licensed physician who has graduated from an accredited school. But there are many other examples of states that do not have this requirement. Check to see what your state requires in terms of equipment, personnel, and how you name your facility. A good resource to learn more about these specific laws and requirements, lean on your accreditation body or local government’s health agencies.
4. Have the appropriate on-site diagnostic equipment for your regional demographics
Having on-site diagnostic equipment is what can help you offer a wide variety of services to your patients and give your personnel the tools they need to perform their job. Take some time to research the types of diseases, injuries, or most common reasons people in your local region would visit an urgent care to ensure you can provide the best possible care. You should try to have the least number of transfers to emergency departments, delaying the care that patients are seeking with urgent needs.
A variety of illnesses and injuries cannot be properly diagnosed without the necessary diagnostic equipment, which is a really important requirement for urgent cares to follow.
Also, be sure to also stay up to date with medical equipment management and compliance protocols related to your diagnostic equipment. Manufacturers will provide best practices within their service manuals. Regulatory agencies may even require you to go a step further, for example performing electrical safety inspections on every electrically operated device. Be sure to document everything from daily calibrations of laboratory equipment, planned maintenance of diagnostic devices, to disinfection protocols. There are resources, like UptimeHealth, that can help you manage these processes.
5. Have an emergency management plan
As an urgent care facility, you should have an emergency management plan. Your plan for how you deal with an emergency will largely depend on the specific scenario your facility undergoes. For instance, you should have a plan in place for patients exhibiting symptoms of highly contagious diseases like today’s coronavirus.
Your plan should cover how you adapt to and handle medical equipment management, personnel, and patient intake. In the example of infectious diseases, your protocol should cover things like how you will prevent and isolate the spread of disease. Your entire team needs to be familiar with your facility’s established protocol and what role they will play. Expect the unexpected when your trade is emergency care.
Other examples of emergency management plans might include what to do in the event of an earthquake, severe weather, or fire drills.
6. Accept walk-ins while still having flexible scheduled visits
Urgent cares share a lot of similarities to emergency rooms. They provide facilities for patients to walk in and see doctors with or without an appointment and are sent home with treatment plans. Just like emergency rooms, urgent cares accept walk-ins as their primary source of patients. After all, the majority of reasons a patient might go to an urgent care arise suddenly and without warning.
If you are able to have a flexible calendar that allows for pre-scheduled patients, you can help limit the unpredictable patient volume of walk-ins. However, urgent cares are not required to treat patients. They have the right to turn patients away at their own discretion. These facilities do not fall under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act. This requirement also does not mean that your facility cannot accept appointments or follow-ups.
7. Have multiple exam rooms
The average urgent care has about 7 exam rooms and 3 rooms per licensed physician. Each exam room should be up to date, following healthcare facility best practices and protocols and functioning medical equipment. This ensures an effective rotation of patients— reducing waiting times, and preventing the spread of infectious diseases. It also acts as a preventative measure against the scenarios where unexpected issues with equipment in exam rooms prevents patients from receiving care.
Multiple exam rooms are also effective for maintaining patient privacy and offering the care they need quickly. Reducing waiting times is essential for treating patients who have injuries or illnesses that demand immediate attention.
The easiest way to maintain your healthcare facility
For many, urgent cares are the perfect alternative to emergency room departments within hospitals. The best practices listed in this article not only make sure that you remain compliant with regulations, it also makes sure that your facility is an effective alternative to emergency rooms. Obtaining accreditations and high standards of care allows you to have a competitive advantage of other urgent cares and get the best reimbursement rates from payers.
If you are struggling to keep up with facility requirements or compliance checklists, UptimeHealth can do wonders for your urgent care. Save time by managing information electronically and use your facility’s personnel more effectively. By saving time and effort, you can focus your energy where it matters most caring for patients.