Do you care what consumers think about your urgent care center? You should. In fact, public sentiment should be one of the top metrics you’re tracking to evaluate your clinic’s success.

Urgent care is a volume-driven business, with every incremental patient visit adding to an urgent care center’s bottom line. Your patient volume might be healthy today, but what if the patients you’ve seen leave your clinic feeling less than positive?

They start to talk. They post negative reviews online. And they post on social media.

Instagram user a_j_testa took to social media to complain about the wait time at an urgent care clinic:

Her post reads, “When urgent care OBVIOUSLY isn’t very urgent [sic] wait time 3 hours.” She added her location to her post, letting everyone know exactly which urgent care clinic she’s referring to.

Instagram user tastexquisitekris posted about how she left an urgent care clinic after waiting more than two hours to be seen. Like a_j_testa, this poster also included the clinic name and location, this time in a hashtag:

“Had to leave #Lackland #urgentcare ⛑last night after #waiting 2.5 (we left) hours……sooooo I went this morning 🌞to the👩🏽‍⚕️ #doctor [sic] It may be #fractured so they sent me to the Lackland #wilfordhall #ugh for an #xray 🎞Ask folks for directions 🛣and sadly no one knows anything……..”

Instagram user yekai.peng didn’t include the clinic name and location in their post, but it’s not a stretch to assume this person told their friends and family where they went for medical care:

Out of breath and can barely lift my arm, I went to "urgent care". I was asked to fill countless forms and wait for doctor nearly an hour. In behind 3 wild guessing test has been taken and I waited the test for another hour. Nearly two hours a "doctor" finally came in and I was quickly diagnosed with "stomach virus". I was like what? After all these time spent, to get what we already known. The funniest thing is I was prescribed with a medicine(another half an hour wait for pick-up) that would hold-up my vomiting but give me headache. Lol, thanks #healthcare #urgentcare #americahealthcare you just made my day! For you all entrepreneurs out there, think about how fancy we can do all kinds of transactions on our phone but we still need paper and pen to fill all the unnecessary forms in our essential healthcare. What an irony!

A post shared by TPeng (@yekai.peng) on

The post reads (bold added for emphasis):

“Out of breath and can barely lift my arm, I went to ‘urgent care’. [sic] I was asked to fill countless forms and wait for doctor nearly an hour. In behind 3 wild guessing [sic] test has been taken and I waited the test for another hour. Nearly two hours a ‘doctor’ finally came in and I was quickly diagnosed with ‘stomach virus’. [sic] I was like what? After all these time spent, [sic] to get what we already known [sic]. The funniest thing is I was prescribed with a medicine (another half an hour wait for pick-up) that would hold-up my vomiting but give me headache. Lol, thanks #healthcare #urgentcare #americahealthcare you just made my day! For you all entrepreneurs out there, think about how fancy we can do all kinds of transactions on our phone but we still need paper and pen to fill all the unnecessary forms in our essential healthcare. What an irony!”

A few negative social media posts might not seem like a huge deal, but word-of-mouth marketing actually has a pretty powerful effect on consumer behavior. According to Nielsen’s Harris Poll Online, 82 percent of Americans say they seek recommendations from friends and family when considering a purchase. So when a consumer is in need of urgent medical attention, do you think she’ll remember your advertisement or what her best friend told her about your urgent care clinic?

The urgent care industry thrives on positive word-of-mouth marketing and repeat visits from loyal patients. If a consumer has a negative experience at your clinic, you not only lose that customer, but you also lose her friends and family members as customers. The more patients you lose, the more difficult and expensive it becomes to get patients through your door. Left unaddressed, you’ll inevitably run out of new patients to draw in from your community. Without patients, you’ll go out of business.

Conversely, consumers who had a positive experience at your urgent care clinic will tell others about it, doing your marketing for you and saving you the marketing expense. And when they’re in need of urgent medical attention, they turn to you first instead of your competitors.

Do you know what your customers think of your urgent care center? If not, it’s time to find out.

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