Photos by Jessica Bartlett for The Boston Globe
When Kevin Moehlenkamp brought the first Doctors Express to the South Shore, no one knew exactly what urgent care was.
But after nine months of operating a small, minute clinic-like business across from the South Shore Plaza in Braintree, and with a new set of national ads starting to educate the public on the service, business is booming, he says, and the expectations are high.
“If we can give them a better service, [at] a better price, in a faster time, we will succeed,” Moehlenkamp said.
The idea is to be the in-between for the Emergency Room and a person’s primary care physician, offering help for anything from sore throats and kidney infections to broken bones and cuts in need of stitches.
Moehlenkamp said he aims to offer set costs for visits, a short wait time, and a dedicated effort to provide good customer service.
“Once people get involved with health care, they feel like it’s out of control for them…it’s out of your hands. All of a sudden your money, your time becomes a world of, ‘What next?’ And you lose the control. I think we give control back to the patient,” Moehlenkamp said.
With high patient volume, Moehlenkamp said the idea of quick care is working.
The office, which has two main doctors and others that work part-time, is seeing on average 30 patients a day, who are in and out of a visit within 45 minutes.
On busy days, like during flu season, as many as 107 patients have walked through the doors.
As successful as the business model has already proven to be, the hope is to keep growing, Moehlenkamp said, going from referrals to people venturing in on their own accord.
“We were here first in this area. Unfortunately I’ve done a lot of the heavy lifting telling people what urgent care is,” he said. “[But there are] more places are coming in now and we have the national campaign… people are just starting to understand.”
Not only is the Braintree franchise seeing growth, but the business is growing in Massachusetts.
After opening seven franchises in the first year, the company is shooting to open seven more in the year going forward, said Rick Crews, President of the Doctors Express New England.
“[We’re] rapidly expanding,” Crews said.
The company’s model has proven so successful that American Family Care, an urgent care business located in the south, purchased the national brand in late March.
That sale won’t change how the company operates, Crews said, but just goes to show that a business offering an alternative to the ER can be successful in the market.
The business has almost become a response to some of the biggest complaints about medical service, Moehlenkamp said, providing an option for patients who felt they didn’t have one before.
Patients are shocked when medical assistants offer them coffee or tea, or walk them out to their car, he said. Even more unexpected is that the company asks for feedback on their website, and pays attention to Yelp reviews.
“It sets a different expectation – if they can do it there, why can’t they do it here?” Moehlenkamp said.
Doctor referrals are not necessary to use the center, all insurance providers except MassHealth are accepted, and appointments and walk-ins are welcome.
For more information on the center, visit their website.