Maximizing Urgent Care Revenue: A Strategic Approach for Flu and Cold Season

With more than 14,000 urgent care centers vying for consumers nationwide, how do you make your services stand out in such an intensely competitive market? Urgent care, now a $48 billion industry, is a key component of any health system for driving revenue and helping to bring new patients into the system. Therefore, effective marketing of urgent care services is a strategic necessity for health systems, particularly during flu and cold season.

Understanding Market Growth and Seasonal Demand

Starting in late Fall and lasting throughout the Winter months, the flu and cold season brings a surge in patients seeking immediate care. An annual pattern of consistent growth in patient visits during these peak seasons is caused by upticks in flu, Covid-19, RSV, and other respiratory illnesses prevalent during "respiratory season."

Additionally, endemic Covid has caused the volume of urgent care visits to increase by about 15-20% annually across the board since the end of the pandemic, which seems to be a stable and lasting trend, according to the Journal of Urgent Care Medicine. Overall, urgent care visits have increased more than 60% since 2019.

Targeting the Right Audience

Identifying key patient demographics is the first step in developing personalized marketing strategies. Market segmentation allows for tailored approaches, which increases engagement and conversion rates. Leveraging data analytics provides valuable insights into patient preferences, enabling targeted and effective marketing efforts.

According to the Urgent Care Association, Gen Z and Millennial consumers use urgent care services more frequently than Baby Boomers. On average, 36% of Gen Z and Millennials have visited an urgent care in the past six months, as compared to 19% of Baby Boomers. Demographics in various areas may differ, so it's best to target campaigns according to the audience's needs in your catchment area, which can be determined by detailed, comprehensive market analysis.

Crafting a Seasonal Marketing Strategy - Omni-channel Approach

A compelling value proposition during the flu and cold season is centered around the convenience of immediate care for common illnesses. An omnichannel approach, combining traditional advertising, digital marketing, and social media, maximizes reach and engagement across all audience segments you're targeting. Additionally, seasonal promotional offers, such as discounted flu shots or bundled services, help to attract and retain patients.

Urgent care represents a significant savings of money and time for consumers as compared to a trip to the emergency room. Therefore, your messaging should emphasize the advantages of your urgent care services, such as convenience and cost savings, plus the added benefit of proactively preventing or avoiding an expensive trip to the emergency room, for example.

Build Community Partnerships

Collaborating with local schools and workplaces for vaccination clinics contributes to community health while enhancing your brand visibility. Pharmacy referral programs may also help to increase accessibility, guiding patients to your urgent care for non-emergent needs. Strengthening ties with local organizations through sponsorships and participation further solidifies the urgent care center's role as a leader in urgent health care services for the community.

Boost Patient Education and Engagement via Content Strategy

Providing relevant content regarding flu and cold prevention positions your organization as a reliable source of practical health information and "news you can use". Webinars, seminars, and online resources engage the community, fostering trust and loyalty. Encouraging patients to schedule non-urgent appointments helps manage peak season volumes efficiently.

Leverage Reviews and Testimonials

Actively encouraging satisfied patients to leave positive reviews helps to boost your organization's online reputation. Additionally, promptly addressing negative feedback demonstrates your group's commitment to patient satisfaction.

Showcasing patient success stories humanizes the urgent care experience to resonate with your audience of prospective consumers. Patient success stories may be told and shared via owned, earned, or paid media. Video content, TV/radio advertising, advertorials, and sponsored content in local news are a few great ways to distribute your patient success stories to your target audience and increase visibility and brand awareness.

Tracking and Measuring Success

Key performance indicators (KPIs) such as new and returning patient volume, number of patients per day tracked week over week, month over month, and year over year, online engagement, cost per acquisition per marketing tactic, and revenue growth serve as benchmarks. Regular, periodic data analysis is needed to assess the effectiveness of marketing strategies, enabling informed decision-making. Making data-driven adjustments and improvements as needed optimizes ongoing marketing efforts for long-term success.

Strategic marketing is instrumental in growing your practice and maximizing urgent care revenue, particularly during the busy flu and cold season. Healthcare executives and marketing leaders should embrace comprehensive approaches to meet seasonal demands and position their urgent care services as essential and reliable health care resources in the community, especially during a time of increased need.

Effective, comprehensive marketing strategies require precise execution and management of many components simultaneously. Additionally, tailoring efforts across many channels to unique market segments can be overwhelming for an in-house marketing team, especially on a tight deadline during a hectic respiratory season. The experts at CMG Health Marketing have the resources in place and the expertise to apply them to the unique needs of your target audience, without pulling your team away from other important projects. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you leverage the demand of the upcoming season to facilitate maximum growth for your urgent care services.