Orthopedic Urgent Care Franchise Goes the Extra Mile to Enhance Patients’ Health Care Journey
// By Lisa D. Ellis //
If you or a family member broke an ankle or dislocated a shoulder, what if you could just use an app on your smartphone to schedule a visit at a nearby orthopedic urgent care center and, at the same time, also arrange for an Uber driver to transport you? This can take some of the stress out of the equation and enable you to get medical care in the most efficient and convenient way.
Customizing Care for Patient Needs
That’s the premise of a new option offered through OrthoNOW®, an orthopedic urgent care franchise with a flagship center in Doral, Florida, and with additional locations throughout Florida and Georgia.
The concept behind OrthoNOW is simple: offer a walk-in facility where patients can be seen by an orthopedic specialist immediately. This gives people who experience orthopedic injuries or chronic orthopedic pain an alternative to the emergency department, where they are likely to endure a long wait only to be referred to a specialist anyway, according to Dr. Alejandro Badia, co-founder and chief medical officer.
The types of injuries OrthoNOW urgent care centers can treat include broken bones, sprains, and cuts. The facilities also offer diagnostic equipment including digital X-ray, and some even have MRI. In addition, some of the facilities have close affiliation and/or proximity to an ambulatory surgery center, so it’s easy for patients to get a proper diagnosis and treatment all in one visit. This makes it an appropriate setting for a range of sports and workers’ compensation injuries, among other things.
While this one-stop-shop approach to addressing emergency orthopedic needs is unique, Badia says his company didn’t stop there. In a world where technology is the norm, and Uber has become a household name, he and his partners decided it made sense to integrate an easy way to summon Uber for patients who experienced an injury that prevented them from driving themselves for medical care. With the current focus on patient-centered care and patient satisfaction, this positions OrthoNOW on the forefront of the field in its commitment to go that extra mile to ensure patients can easily and conveniently get to the urgent care center when they need treatment for an injury.
We know of no other organization using Uber for acute injuries.”
—Dr. Alejandro Badia, co-founder and chief medical officer of OrthoNOW
Badia points out that this approach represents a partnership between a health care organization and a ride-sharing service, which is an unusual pairing. “In our journey to keep health care up-to-date with the latest technology, a ride-sharing service being incorporated into an industry that very rarely partners with companies that work outside of health care is getting some attention,” he says. Although there are existing cases of Uber providing transportation for routine medical visits and diagnostic studies, according to Badia, “We know of no other organization using Uber for acute injuries. We have built it into our primary business functional app, he says, adding, “Uber tells us that [the details of this] partnership make it completely innovative.”
Using the OrthoNOW App
While the concept may be unusual, the OrthoNOW app is not completely new. It was first created in 2013 when the franchise was formed and since then, has undergone several iterations. The app is now in its third generation.
“We understand that injuries don’t happen by appointment and our commitment to providing an outstanding patient experience begins before patients cross our threshold,” Badia stresses. “Therefore, we are proud to be launching this innovative new mobile app [version] 2.2, designed with the patient in mind.”
To understand the full benefits of the latest app version for iPhone, Badia says you need to know how it works.
“If you experience an injury, you simply open the OrthoNOW On My Way NOW™ feature. This will call up the address of the nearest center to your current location and will tell you the hours and show you a picture of the building,” he says. The app also allows patients to put in an estimated time of arrival and to upload a photo of the injury so that the medical team will be ready. Then you can also click an option that directs Uber to come to your location and drive you to the center.
Users can enter family members or employees, or a coach can enter his players, so they can be easily sent for treatment in case of an emergency.
“This can all be done in a couple of clicks,” Badia says.
In fact, he recently had a chance to see how this works firsthand from the patient’s perspective and not just as a surgeon.
“I was playing tennis and when I was going in for a backhand, I fell and had an AC joint shoulder separation,” he says. “The friend I was playing with offered to take me to my own center, but I decided to just try the app myself instead and see firsthand how it worked,” he says.
The Need for Such a Premise
Badia says the idea for OrthoNOW really came about because, as a hand surgeon, he kept seeing patients with injuries that did not get proper care in the Emergency Department setting.
“Sometimes the ED doctor had missed the diagnosis,” Badia says. This prompted him to create a facility where people with orthopedic injuries could see a specialist right from the start, saving time, saving money, and often achieving better outcomes, too.
Since OrthoNOW is a small company without much of an advertising budget, to date much of the marketing has been done on a very small scale.
In fact, to help spread the word about the app, he says that his staff gives patients a handout with more information about the app and encourages them to download it while they are in the clinic receiving treatment. This way they will already have it installed when they need it next. This is key, since once someone experiences an injury, he or she is not apt to then go online and download the app. It needs to be already on their phone in advance for best results.
Badia says he hopes that as more patients discover the convenience of using a walk-in urgent-care model for orthopedic injuries, as well as calling Uber to transport them right from the easy-to-use app, they will share their positive experiences with family members, friends, neighbors, and colleagues. This way even more people may begin to take advantage of this new approach to receiving convenient health care and using easily accessible transportation that they can order remotely, and can count on to drive them right to the facility’s door.
Lisa D. Ellis is Editor of Strategic Health Care Marketing.