A walk-in clinic, also known as urgent care, is where customers are looking for quick medical treatments.
The specifics of what services are offered vary from clinic to clinic, but the concept remains the same: offering extended hours, treating non-life-threatening injuries and illnesses, and accepting walk-in patients.
Strong customer service is the focal point of all urgent care facilities.
If you are interested in knowing how to open a health care location or more specifically, a walk-in health clinic, in this article we are going to focus on how to choose a location for a walk-in health clinic and talk about health care businesses.
Is The Health Care Business Right For You?
Entrepreneurs considering this business effort should have a significant amount of capital to invest in the business. Most clinics are owned by physicians who seek more effective treatment for their patients.
Some states forbid corporations from the practice of medicine.
If you are not a doctor, make sure to check with the state and local laws before you get too far into the planning phase in order to ensure that you do not reside in one of such states.
What Goes On During A Normal Day At A Walk-in Clinic?
There are many moving parts included in an operation of this magnitude.
The facility must be kept clean and orderly, patients must be checked in and out, billing and other administrative duties must be managed, and patients have to be seen, diagnosed, and treated.
In some cases, someone from the clinic will need to ensure that patients receive the necessary follow-up care.
A representative will also have to be in charge of handling the marketing strategy.
What Are The Main Skills And Experiences Required To Open A Walk-in Health Clinic?
Depending on the state in which you reside, the business owner may be required to be an attending physician.
This requires a significant amount of education, licensing, and accreditation. Leaders must be organized, confident in decision-making, and qualified to delegate responsibilities to staff members.
Many insurance companies now require urgent care facilities to receive certification and/or accreditation as part of the contracting process.
The Urgent Care Association of America (UCAOA) can help you sign up for the appropriate Certified and Accredited Urgent Care Designation Program.
It would also prove beneficial, as with most small enterprises, to gain some experience working in the field. Knowledge and training will prove invaluable as you navigate through the first few years of uncertainty.
What Is The Potential Of Growth For A Walk-in Clinic?
While this is a capital intensive type of business, there is great potential for growth.
More than 150 million patients visit walk-in clinics every year, seeking treatment for everything from influenza to broken bones and school physicals.
Due to a lack of access to primary care physicians and the introduction of the Affordable Health Care Act, there has been an increase in demand for walk-in clinics.
While the future of AHC is uncertain, demand is still expected to increase, as consumers are faced with higher deductibles and reduced coverage.
How To Open A Health Care Location? 9 Steps To Follow
Starting a business takes more effort than just registering it with the state.
We have put together this simple guide on how to open a health care location to get your walk-in clinic started.
These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned, properly registered, and legally compliant.
1. Planning Your Business
A clear plan is crucial to success for an entrepreneur in any industry. This will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. There are a few important topics to consider:
- How much are the startup and ongoing costs?
- What is your target audience?
- How long will it take for your business to break even?
- What will the business be called?
Luckily, in this section, we are going to provide you brief answers to these important questions.
What are the costs?
As mentioned above, this is a capital-intensive business venture.
Total costs vary depending on the size of the clinic, the services offered, the region, and the size of the staff. Business owners starting with a blank slate should plan a budget of $750,000 to $1 million.
This amount is enough to cover all start-up as well as operating costs for the first three months. Three months is the standard time it takes for insurance companies to make payments.
Important items to consider in your budgeting:
- Purchase, build or lease the location of the facility
- Possible Facility improvements
- Furniture and fixtures
- Clinic equipment and software
- Professional fees
What are the ongoing expenses?
Below items are the standard costs incurred by walk-in clinics:
- Payrolls and taxes
- Electronic Medical Records / EMR Software: Investment in a cloud-based system could help reduce costs, but usually comes with a monthly fee based on the number of users.
- Radiology and laboratory fees: Is this going to be handled in-house, by a member of your staff, or are you going to contract this work with an outsourced partner?
- Insurance: At the very least, you need insurance for property, liability, and mismanagement. A professional can help you determine the appropriate coverage for your business.
- Professional fees: It is advised that you remain in touch and seek advice from professionals such as a CPA, a lawyer, and a business consultant. These fees will vary depending on the scope of their work.
- Maintenance and cleaning: The facility should be kept clean and well maintained.
- Write-offs for non-payment
Who is your target audience?
Due to changes in the healthcare system, many consumers are now turning to walk-in clinics when they need medical treatment and/or advice.
This expands your target market to virtually every American, insured, and uninsured.
The key is to choose the location where is lacking this type of facility.
Your space should be easily accessible, have ample parking, and stand out for those who are driving by.
2. Forming A Legal Entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as the LLC prevents you from being personally liable if your walk-in clinic is being sued.
There are many business structures to choose from, including corporations, LLCs, and DBAs.
You must also consider using a registered agent service to help protect your privacy and remain compliant.
3. Registering For Taxes
You will also need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open up for business.
You will need to apply for an EIN in order to register for taxes; doing so is free and very easy.
4. Opening A Business Bank Account And Credit Card
The use of dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for the protection of personal assets.
Opening a business bank account separates your personal assets from the assets of your company, which are necessary for the protection of personal assets.
It also makes filing accounting and tax easier.
Getting a business credit card helps you separate your personal and business expenses by putting all your business expenses in one place.
It also builds the credit history of your company, which may be useful for raising money and investing later.
5. Setting Up Business Accounting
Recording your different costs and sources of income is crucial to understanding the financial performance of your business.
Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also makes your annual tax filing much easier.
6. Obtaining Necessary Permits And Licenses
Failure to obtain the necessary permits and licenses may result in heavy fines, or even cause your business to be shut down eventually.
7. Getting Business Insurance
As with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance to operate safely and lawfully.
Business Insurance protects the financial well-being of your company in the event of a covered loss.
There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of companies with different risks.
If you are unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, start with General Liability Insurance.
This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it is a great place to start for your business.
Another notable insurance policy that many companies need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance.
If your business is going to have employees, it is a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers’ Compensation cover.
8. Defining Your Brand
Your brand is what your company stands for and how your business is perceived by the public.
A strong brand will help your business to stand out from its competitors.
How to Market A Walk-in Clinic?
This sector is becoming increasingly competitive, so proper branding should be a top priority.
The outward appearance of your facility, location, logo, and website are all critical components of your branding experience.
Consider seeking professional assistance in developing your branding and marketing strategy.
How To Make Customers Come Back?
Your patients know that if they do not have a positive experience at your facility, they can just go down the street to another one.
Customer service should, therefore, be a top priority for your business.
Satisfied customers should be encouraged to post online reviews, which is a great way to attract and retain clients.
A monthly newsletter is a great strategy to remind patients that you are there to meet their needs.
9. Establishing Your Online Presence
Business websites allow customers to learn more about your company and the products or services that you offer. You can also use social media to attract new customers or clients.