The explosive growth of the urgent care industry is attracting private equity and investor attention across the country. Many of these facilities are run by doctors who believe urgent care is the future of healthcare, offering a much needed alternative to a hospital ER for medical emergencies. But as with any new business sector, innovators find a way to turn a good concept into a great one. Two Connecticut businessmen are using their collective expertise to open a series of Doctors Express urgent care centers, offering a combination of exceptional medical care and impeccable customer service.
“As a father of four, I have certainly spent a lot of time in urgent care facilities with my kids. I thought that the consumer experience needed improvement, and determined that we could make it exceptional!” said co-owner Tom Kelly, whose background spans 25 years in senior corporate executive roles with The Stanley Works, Newell Rubbermaid and other publicly traded companies. “In a world where fast food and pizza are at your fingertips, good health care is not. It can be difficult to obtain and is not always consumer-friendly or focused on customer service. We want to change that.”
After spending fifteen years on Wall Street, co-owner Ron Krippner helped lead the expansion of his family’s Montessori School business to 19 schools in New Jersey. Kelly and Krippner are seasoned businessmen who saw the urgent care segment as an opportunity to offer a service that makes a difference in people’s lives in a similar way to the Montessori schools. After deeply researching the health care market in the state of Connecticut, they opened their first Doctors Express urgent care center in Danbury last year, offering affordable, accessible and quality health care to Danbury and surrounding communities. They work closely with area hospitals, primary care physicians and specialists, bringing efficiency to the system, improving communication between health care providers, and ushering thousands of patients into the health care network through referrals.
In early May, Doctors Express will open its latest Connecticut location in West Hartford, with the goal of becoming one of the most modern medical facilities in the Greater Hartford region. It will be a walk-in only model, thus eliminating the aggravation of waiting behind patients with appointments. Doctors Express Urgent Care in West Hartford will also operate with a heavier staffing level than primary care offices so that it can handle bursts of patient flow efficiently.
“Tom and I were looking to get involved in a tangible business that filled a need for the community,” said Co-Owner Ron Krippner. “The urgent care model makes sense because it is time and cost-efficient. We wanted to build a business that provided good jobs for the local economy, while keeping our region healthy.”
“We are local guys investing our own money in a medical center to take care of folks in our community,” adds Kelly. “Unlike many private equity investors entering the urgent care space, we are not interested in simply opening and quickly flipping an operation. Rather, we are in it for the long haul – we want Doctors Express to make a positive contribution to our communities and to the future of Connecticut’s healthcare landscape.”
According to the American Academy of Urgent Care, the number of walk-in, stand-alone urgent care facilities has increased from 8,000 to 9,300 within the past five years, and about 50 to 100 new clinics open every year. Kelly and Krippner believe that there is strong potential in the urgent care industry. With fewer primary care physicians (PCP) to choose from, many people do not have a PCP and instead use the ER for routine ambulatory care. As a result, ER’s around the country are taxed, hospitals are struggling and patients are having to suffer through long waits and overworked providers. This is where Doctors Express urgent care fits in.
“Many people are experiencing ‘time poverty,’ and successful service-based businesses are going to have to structure their model to ensure the highest quality service is provided in the shortest amount of time,” said Kelly. “From having patients greeted at the door, to treating them with authentic compassion and care, providing comprehensive care, all within an hour, we are creating an all new medical experience for our patients.”
“We set out to create the type of environment where people loved to come to work. We care deeply for our employees and we all treat each other like family. This is reflected in the attitude of our staff and their interactions with patients. Patients often comment that Doctors Express is a happy place. At our Danbury facility, 90% of our staff grew up in Danbury and the surrounding towns. We plan on doing the same in West Hartford,” said Kelly. “Our entire staff embraces our mission to create the best health care experience that our patients have ever had. We interviewed 150 candidates and hired eight. Their inspiration comes from their deep desire to help people. You will find them to be happy, friendly, warm and compassionate, with the most sophisticated clinical skills found anywhere in urgent care.”
Kelly and Krippner are self-proclaimed “data junkies,” and have made it a practice of using consumer research and patient feedback to consistently improve their model and ultimately patient experience. They have also demonstrated their vision for local economic growth. They exercise “local focus” in every facet of their projects from hiring local contractors, vendors, consultants and medical professionals.
Doctors Express Urgent Care provides treatment for injuries and illnesses – offering a convenient, lower-cost alternative to visiting a hospital emergency room. The facility is equipped with the most sophisticated digital x-ray equipment and its laboratory meets the highest industry standards for fast and accurate testing. Doctors Express also provides Occupational Health services for employees and employers. There are approximately 20 doctors express locations throughout New England, making it the largest chain of urgent care centers in the Northeast.
It is the goal of Doctors Express to see patients quickly and to treat their injury or illness with the utmost quality and efficiency. You don’t need to be a regular patient, nor do you need an appointment. The first Doctors Express Urgent Care is located at 2 Main Street in Danbury with its new Doctors Express Urgent Care in West Hartford location at 1030 Boulevard. There are additional locations in Bridgeport and Stamford (also opening in May). Visit www.DoctorsExpressWestHartford.com or call (860) 986-6440 for more information.