Physician Leaders in the Urgent Care Industry

happy patientWith the urgent care industry in its rapid growth phase, walk-in clinics are popping up all over the nation. While many of these entities may get caught up with the administrative and bureaucratic side of business, physician leaders in the urgent care industry are great because they set the foundation for patient care and experience.

“Urgent care has gotten really popular lately, and when you have physicians involved with ownership, they look at more than just profit,” Kevin DiBenedetto, MD, founder and owner at Premier Health, says.

DiBenedetto says that great physician leaders of urgent care centers look at the big picture.

“If you can deliver the best possible care, then you’ll have a successful business. The money will follow,” DiBenedetto says. “But if you just worry about the bottom line (profit), you may end up making some decisions that aren’t in the best interest for the patients, the clinic and even your employees.”

A great physician leader will have a good balance between the business side of things and making sure that patients have a good experience.

“Physician owners have that ‘in the trenches’ feel for the practice, and a good grasp of what is happening on a day-to-day patient level,” DiBenedetto says. “They have a good idea of the efficiency of the clinic, quality of care, patient flow and overall culture of the clinic.”

DiBenedetto says that physician leaders are able to see firsthand what happens in a walk-in clinic on a daily basis, rather than waiting until later to hear about patient experiences from surveys or the patients themselves.

“Metrics and statistics are great things to have, but they don’t always give you that true picture of the clinic and the business itself,” DiBenedetto says.

Bruce Irwin, MD, founder and CEO of American Family Care, also believes that physicians make great leaders for urgent care businesses.

“I believe that physicians are great options for leading urgent care centers,” Irwin says. “I think physicians have a highly developed level of compassion for the patient, yet at the same time, they have economical sense and common sense.”

Irwin says that for a long time, healthcare has been an upside down pyramid. Decisions have not been made by the consumer, but by insurance companies and politicians.

“We’re seeing a revolution right now; the pyramids are turning right side up again,” Irwin says. “The consumers are turning healthcare in the direction it should be going, which is a consumer conscientious service, and physician leaders are well-equipped to care for these consumers.”

While physician leaders in the urgent care industry are great, that doesn’t mean that physician extenders like physician assistants and nurse practitioners aren’t qualified to care for patients as well.

“Nurse practitioners and physician assistants are great for common ailments that they can treat appropriately,” Irwin says. “I just think it’s very important that they have physician input, backup and consultation available to them.”

As mentioned before, DiBenedetto says that the ‘in the trenches’ perspective is what really makes physician leaders stand out.

“If there is a staffing problem or other issues involving the clinical process like patient flow, problems with the EMR or with testing, it can be corrected in real time,” DiBenedetto says. “In a model with physician leaders, everyone wins. Other employees do better, the patients and customers do better and the physicians and other providers do better, which allows them to give the best care possible.”

In addition, DiBenedetto says that it’s hard to beat the camaraderie produced by having physician owners and leaders of an urgent care center.

“A lot of times, you’ll have the clinical people doing their work, and their administrative people will be in their office, and there is a big gap between the two; each group doesn’t appreciate the work that the other one does,” DiBenedetto says. “When you have physician owners and leaders walking both sides of the fence, they can see both perspectives and serve as a liaison between the two. That goes a long way, and creates a more complete package as far as the company and business goes.”

DiBenedetto says that you can never undervalue physician involvement in a clinic.

“You can do everything right, have a great business model and great location, but if you don’t have good providers and good leadership, you’re not going to make it,” DiBenedetto says. “It doesn’t take long for patients to figure out if you don’t have good physicians.”

DiBenedetto says that physician leaders will take good care of their practices.

“They’re going to make sure that things get done right, patients have a good experience and correct anything that doesn’t go well,” DiBenedetto says. “They’re going to make sure that the patient doesn’t get lost in the bureaucratic side or the administrative side of things.”

“I think that physicians make great leaders because they have the ability to combine medical knowledge with the inclination to run healthcare in a much more consumer-driven manner,” Irwin says.

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