On this edition of Just Checking In, industry expert Alan Ayers discusses how urgent care centers can boost profits by marketing to travelers.
Are you looking for ways to increase revenue at your urgent care center? Travel medicine may be the answer you're looking for. That's next on Just Checking In. Good afternoon this is Alan Ayers and I am just checking in from the Chicago O'Hare International Airport where I am here to talk to you today about travel medicine as a marketing and revenue opportunity for urgent care. So the number one concern we hear from urgent care operators is that they just need more visits. They need more feet through the door and typically when that occurs your best approach is to market aggressively your core injury and illness services, your urgent care. But we do find that many urgent care centers are also successful at adding ancillary services. And these are services above and beyond urgent care to your existing and potentially new patients in the community. So one such ancillary service is travel medicine. When we talk about travel medicine there are two components to it. The first is the medical consultation. So a patient comes in for a travel medicine consult they have an itinerary, they have a destination they have activities that they plan to engage. So the travel medicine consult starts with the understanding of the patient’s itinerary, what are their destinations, what are the health risks at those destinations. Now to identify those health risks, there is software available for travel medicine practitioners that information is also published online by the CDC. So you assess what activities they are engaging and what are the risks at their destination, you provide a physical exam to assure the patient would be safe to complete their itinerary. You also identify what vaccinations would be necessary for traveling to those destinations. Upon completion of the physical exam you clear the patient to complete their itinerary. Now a benefit of doing a travel medicine consult is that you can provide the patient with a travel kit. The travel kit contains prophylactic medications for things like malaria, traveler’s diarrhea, motion sickness, things that the patient can administer should a minor emergency occur and the patient does not have access to medical care while traveling. The travel kit can also contain some basic first aid items, band aids, antibiotic ointment and other things the patient may need. And the travel kit is something certainly that you can charge for particularly if you package it in something that is visually appealing that the patient can include with their luggage. Upon the patients return from their itinerary there is the opportunity for a follow-up consult which entails understanding what the risks were given the patients itinerary and their activities, providing a post trip follow-up consult is an additional visit opportunity. And you just want to make sure that the patient didn't pick up anything abroad and that they are clear to continue in their day to day lives. The second component of travel medicine goes to the travel vaccines. Depending on the patients destination there may be vaccines required, yellow fever is fairly typical of developing nations but also it may be a good idea for a patient to be vaccinated for things like Hepatitis A&B, to have a flu shot. Other things because you don't want the patient's trip to be derailed by an unexpected illness. The travel vaccinations typically are not covered by insurance which provides a cash pay opportunity for patients that need these vaccines. And the process very similar to the medical consult really starts with understanding, where is the patient going, what are the risks where they are going and what are the recommended vaccines for those destinations. Now there are 3 ways to market travel vaccinations. The first is to individual travelers certainly in the community. There are college students that travels abroad, senior citizens that go on cruises that go on safaris go on tours. And marketing to individuals you would follow your typical tactics. One of the most effective is just letting your people know that you offer travel medicine. So putting posters in all of your exam rooms for instance that say something like... "Traveling abroad we can help you with all of your vaccinations or we can get you medical clearance for that." Apart from the individual market the greatest opportunity really lies with churches and particularly evangelical churches that have a school affiliated with them. These churches typically engage groups of 40-50 people that go on short term mission trips. For instance a spring break, a group of high school students goes to Haiti to build churches or construct homes. to help with infrastructure so tying into the churches and the schools Provides an opportunity to capture a large group all with the same need that provides some scale economies in buying your vaccinations. And there is an opportunity to build a relationship with that organization which over time will fuel some urgent care business as well. The third opportunity for travel medicine goes to occupational medicine. So being here at the airport as you can imagine all the international airlines. Every time a crew member is added that is going to be traveling to these destinations even some ground crew that handles cargo from these destinations, they are going to need the travel vaccinations. Also if you think of some very large fortune 500 companies like Ford, GM, and American Express they have executives that travel all over the globe. Now once the executives are vaccinated the needs may not be frequent, but again every time they hire new executives who are going to be working with their global operations those individuals are going to need the travel vaccines as well. So the opportunity for travel medicine first and foremost are the churches, particularly evangelical churches with a school associated with them and then apart from that is the oc-med opportunity. The benefit to urgent care is not only increased revenue, its cash paid business, it's feet through the door but also it's an opportunity to build relationships with consumers. So a couple coming in who is planning a cruise, they come in for travel medicine, they may not be aware of urgent care they may not be aware of your entire skill for services But getting that person into your centers provides an opportunity to meet your providers, meet your staff, see your wonderful facilities and then from a marketing perspective that's a patient that when they have an urgent care need, injury or illness, they'll think to return to your center first. So many benefits to offer in travel medicine... If you have more questions about travel medicine or about other creative ideas for driving volume through your center please don't hesitate to contact us here at Practice Velocity. Again this is Alan Ayers and I am Just Checking In from the Chicago, O'Hare international Airport talking to you about travel medicine.