A new type of urgent care franchise will soon be coming to Los Angeles. The orthopedic care franchise business OrthoNOW, based in Florida, is seeking to expand its operations into Southern California, according to the company’s chief medical officer, Dr. Alejandro Badia.
OrthoNOW’s specialty urgent care centers focus on orthopedic injuries, provide an alternative to the hospital emergency room (ER) and put physicians in the driver’s seat, according to Dr. Badia, a hand and upper limb surgeon and past president of the International Society for Sport Traumatology of the Hand.
Dr. Badia told PNN that his business model was born out of frustration with hospital ERs and a desire to create a way for independent physicians to treat patients better, sooner and cheaper than hospitals can. “Our wait times to be seen by a specialist provider average 12 minutes,” he noted.
He said it was a difficult process but OrthoNOW is finally registered for a franchise in California and is currently working with an orthopedic surgeon in LA who will be the first to open an OrthoNOW urgent care clinic.
Dr. Badia said their market studies indicate that the LA County area could easily support 10 to 12 OrthoNOW franchises in strategic locations, and the company is very interested in locations throughout Southern California, including Orange County and San Diego.
OrthoNOW is a dedicated orthopedic urgent care center focused on treating the full range of orthopedic and sports medicine injuries on a walk-in basis. The advantage of this business model, according to Dr. Badia, is that the clinic captures patients from outside of normal practices, bills at urgent care rates and is a feeder source for integrated network downstream revenue.
Dr. Ramon Cabreja, medical director at the Surgery Center at Doral in Florida, which is affiliated with a local OrthoNow urgent care, told PNN that they have seen the volume of patients go up since the 3 years that the local OrthoNOW center has been open. “Especially in the last year, we have seen more patients having surgeries at our center. Patients that would normally go to a hospital are now having surgeries with us,” he said.
Dr. Cabreja said he sees big savings and a huge benefit for patients who are now getting surgeries within 72 hours as oppose to 7 to 10 days if they had gone to the ER, were referred to a specialist and only then scheduled for a surgery. It is especially critical for case where there is nerve or tendon damage, he said. Waiting longer means nerves start to shrink and you need an expensive nerve graft surgery, for example.
In the current healthcare environment, physicians are looking at different sources of income, Dr. Badia said. “I came to the conclusion that hospital emergency rooms have no business making money off someone spraining their ankle.” It is more expensive and puts patients in a position of waiting for hours to be seen, and the money should be going to compensate physicians instead of hospitals. The specialty urgent care model is a way to provide much better quality in a much more efficient way, according to Dr. Badia.
If a surgeon who owns his own clinic or ambulatory surgical center (ASC) with ancillary services wants to use the franchise model for a stand-alone center, he or she can receive an exclusive single franchise location or an area development agreement over a larger patient population.
The clinic typically refers 25% of its patients to a rehab center for physical therapy, 17% to an imaging center for an MRI, 16% to an ASC for surgery and 3% to 5% to a pain specialist. Those are all referrals and income streams that, according to Dr. Badia, would have been lost had the patient gone to the emergency room.
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