OSF unveils one-stop concept to appeal to millenials

OSF unveils one-stop concept to appeal to millenials

CHAMPAIGN — With coffee, cafe tables, charging stations for your gadgets and your own personal care guide to settle you in and make you comfy, this won't exactly be like your parents' urgent care center.

Introducing OSF urgo, OSF HealthCare's new concept in urgent care, opening this fall in three high-traffic areas of Champaign-Urbana.

Peoria-based OSF already operates more traditional-style urgent care centers in other communities under the name PromptCare, and is launching OSF urgo — short for urgent care on the go — with a nontraditional flair.

Each urgo location will be about 3,000 square feet. Each will have four exam rooms and offer on-site x-ray and lab services.

And each will treat largely the same kinds of ailments commonly treated at urgent and convenient care centers in the area.

OSF urgo locations will welcome patients of all ages, but they're being designed to especially cater to young adults ages 25-40, according to Janet Rendleman, OSF's vice president of on-demand services.

This is an age group OSF isn't seeing much of at its PromptCare centers, "and they don't use traditional primary care services as well," she said.

The goal is to make urgent care visits a positive and personal experience and build a connection with these young adults and their families, according to Melinda Cooling, OSF vice president of advanced practice providers.

"One of the things we hope to achieve is to create a relationship with a demographic we don't have a relationship with," she said.

Some of the features at OSF urgo locations will be waiting areas that look more like lounges, with natural lighting and "a very light and airy vibe," Rendleman said.

There will be warm blankets available for patients with the shivers, coffee and electronics charging stations and — a key part of the experience — care guides, she said.

Certified medical assistants and radiology technicians, the care guides will greet the patients, get them registered (in the waiting area or an exam room), take their vitals and get them settled in and comfortable.

"Our goal is to have the guides stay with them as much as possible," Cooling said.

One-stop concept

OSF HealthCare — which entered the local market this past February when it purchased the former Presence Health hospitals in Urbana and Danville — has urgent care center plans that align with health care delivery trends being driven by the millennial generation.

Millennials are 22-37 years old this year, and many came of age in a recession and with cellphones in hand.

Overtaking baby boomers as the nation's largest consumer group, millennials want a patient-centered experience in health care, but they're not necessarily developing the relationships with primary care doctors that their parents and grandparents have experienced, market studies indicate.

In its latest benchmarking report released this month, the Urgent Care Association said millennials are seeking convenient options to traditional primary care doctors, they're apt to seek out health care for episodes of illness and injuries, they prefer on-demand access for their shopping and services and they look for pricing transparency.

"They want (health care) to be quick and efficient, and they are able to research their care options in so many ways now," Rendleman said. "They're very tech-savvy, and they have a lot of different ways of seeking out their care. And they're very price-sensitive because of their age and situation."

Plans are to inform patients about pricing upfront at OSF urgo centers — when that's possible — OSF spokeswoman Shelli Dankoff said.

"Private pay patients will have a stated price," she said. "We are still working out how best to provide this information for managed-care and Medicare patients."

Also part of the plans is a one-stop concept. Common medications, such as antibiotics, will be available for patients to take with them when they leave, so they won't have to make another trip to a pharmacy, Rendleman said.

"They can just take the kids home and start to feel better," she said.

The competition

With the opening of three OSF urgo locations, there will be 11 urgent or convenient care centers in Champaign County alone — nearly all of them in Champaign-Urbana.

Two of Carle's convenient care centers are in Champaign-Urbana, and three of Christie Clinic's are in Champaign, Urbana and Mahomet. There are two more in Champaign operated by independent physicians, and Frances Nelson Health Center has a walk-in clinic — though largely for its own patients and those without doctors.

Regardless of their banners, urgent care and convenient care centers are intended to treat more minor ailments such as sprains, flu, minor cuts and infections, sore throats and fever — conditions that call for immediate care, but aren't serious enough for an emergency room.

The age groups Carle saw the most of at its own convenient care centers last year were children under 18, followed by young adults 25-40, according to Carle spokeswoman Jamie Mullin.

Overall, use of Carle's convenient care centers in Champaign, Vermilion and Coles counties has grown by 15 percent over the last five years, she said.

The growth has been seen most at Carle's Urbana, Hoopeston and Mattoon convenient care centers, with Champaign and Danville locations holding steady, according to Dr. Sally Salmons, a Carle associate medical director.

Salmons remembers local convenient care in its early days, when it was offered during evenings only. "It's evolved very nicely in response to the community," she said.

Christie Clinic has also seen growth at its convenient care centers, and it's also weeded out a few locations it tried briefly in retail sites that over-saturated the market and were under-utilized, according to clinic CEO Kenneth Bilger.

"By consolidating care at our four primary locations, we were able to expand the days and hours of operation as well as increase our level of services provided," he said.

Next stop: Danville?

With Carle and Christie Clinic convenient care centers already in Vermilion County, OSF HealthCare is also looking in that direction as a possible future urgent care site, Rendleman said.

Decatur is also a future possible expansion direction, she said.The three OSF urgo sites in Champaign-Urbana were chosen based on traffic and such demographics as population and ages of residents in their surrounding areas, Rendleman said.

"We anticipate these will be very successful," she said.

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