The practice leaders at Sarasota Memorial’s six urgent care clinics wanted to drive market share but also needed to drive patients to the clinics that had the most capacity to treat that incremental volume. They had already successfully executed a comprehensive strategy to increase volume AND improve the patient experience through various process improvements and by adding new clinics. Unfortunately, they still faced an imbalance in patient visits. Two of the urgent care clinics received 44% of all visits, while the most recently opened clinic had the lowest volume. In addition, patient arrival times across the board tended to cluster around the opening hour, lunch time, and right after work. As a result of these bottlenecks, patients tended to face longer wait times.
As part of their “smart growth” marketing plan, SMH Urgent Cares turned to the Check-in Express tool from ER Express to not only help with patient acquisition, but also smooth out the peaks and valleys in arrivals at their busiest facilities.
The SMH marketing team alongside the ER Express marketing team, promoted the convenience of the new check-in service via a targeted Google Ads campaign, a commercial, and multiple print materials for the waiting rooms. Branding the online check-in program Save My Spot, the Sarasota Memorial Urgent Care website landing page allowed patients to ‘comparison shop’ among the six locations by showing the first available treatment times for each clinic. Staff adjusted the inventory of time slots so the newer, less busy urgent care clinic had more check-in time slots available while the more popular, older urgent cares had fewer time slots offered only at typically less busy times of the day.
Since staff could now control the availability of time slots, the check-in system helped them to steer patients to choose time slots during less busy times of the day at the less busy campus, breaking up the usual bottlenecks and longer waits.
As expected, the newly opened, least busy location had the highest level of online check-in utilization, measured by the number of online bookings as a percentage of that location's total patient visits. Meanwhile, the two busiest locations had the lowest levels of online check-in utilization. Illustrated in the bar chart above, location #6 was the least busy clinic and generated 9% of its overall volume from online bookings, whereas location #1, the most busy clinic, received only 4% of its overall volume from the online reservations.
In addition, patients raved about the convenience of the online check-in service, signaling that the patient experience had been improved because of the addition of this service.