Makai HR Business Owner Spotlight: Urgent Care Plus Hawaii
Updated: Jan 28
One of the best things about providing outsourced human resources services on Oahu is getting to know the local business owners who run these companies. Hawaii’s diverse business community is close knit and teaming with talent. We hope you find their insights as interesting as we do!
We spoke with Donna Schmidt, Founder & CEO of Urgent Care Hawaii. Donna and her husband Mark operate four urgent care clinics across Oahu.
Here is the Q & A:
Q. How did you get into urgent care clinics?
A. “As a medical social worker, my mission is to expand the continuum of healthcare so it’s accessible and meets the needs of the community. We opened our first urgent care clinic in 2011 to offer essential urgent care in Central Oahu and by chance, two hospitals closed on Oahu one month later. Losing two hospital-based emergency rooms, suddenly created a huge necessity for urgent care. In 2016, we expanded with three more urgent care clinics spread strategically around Oahu for optimal geographic coverage. We now have eight physicians and seven nurse practitioners working at our four urgent care clinics.
Q. How do you stand out from your competitors?
A. “Our mission separates us from the competition. Our dedication to serving the community is embedded in our practice. Working closely with the primary care doctors and pediatricians, community education on important health issues and our free First Aid Service for community events are just a few of the unique things we offer to the communities we serve.”
Q. What is Urgent Care Plus (UC+)?
A. “Urgent Care Plus (UC+) was launched at all four of our centers in August, 2017. We realized that there were many patients coming in for a sprained ankle or other issue that also had symptoms of an underlying chronic illness which required diagnosis and treatment by a Primary Care Physician (PCP). Urgent Care Plus fills the gap between urgent and primary care by building a bridge between the urgent care setting and the primary care setting. UC+ ensures that patients don’t fall through the cracks in the system. We provide screening and education when chronic illness is suspected, collaboration with PCPs when necessary and assistance to patients who do not have PCPs.
Innovation in healthcare requires a paradigm shift in the way that healthcare is consumed. Urgent Care Plus has a three-fold approach: educating employers, supporting primary care physicians and meeting consumers where they are.
The consumer makes the final decision about where to get care and how to use health care services. What health care providers need to understand is that consumer behavior is changing. A recent study found that 45% of 18- to 29-year-olds had no primary care provider, compared to 28% of 30- to 49-year-olds, 18% of 50- to 64-year-olds and 12% of people 65 years and older. The theory is that primary care service doesn’t fit into millennials lifestyle; they prefer the same-day service they can receive at an urgent healthcare clinic. Part of our mission is to recognize and meet this changing behavior by serving the needs of the community. Fifty percent of people who come in to our care clinics do not have a PCP and yet 90% have employer provided health insurance. The other 50% do have PCPs but don’t see them on regular basis. We take it upon ourselves to educate those without a PCP and those who have stopped visiting their PCP about the importance of well-checks and diagnosing and treating chronic illnesses before the only treatment options are very invasive.
We educate doctors about what we do and build relationships with them so they tell their patients to visit Urgent Care Plus after office hours. In exchange, we direct their patients back to them for long-term prescriptions and to diagnose and manage chronic health issues. We also help our patients without PCPs to find ones who are accepting new patients. Our relationships mean that when we call to schedule appointments for our patients we can get them in within seven days instead of two to three weeks (acute conditions get appointments within three days).
We educate employers so they communicate to their employees about the best ways to seek care; employees should understand when it is appropriate to visit an Emergency Room, an urgent care clinic or a PCP. We also talk to them about the benefits of healthy employees and the high cost of sick employees. When employees have chronic health issues that go undiagnosed they tend to start missing a lot of work and when they do come they are not as productive.”
Q. What do you see as the benefits and challenges of owning a health clinic in Hawaii?
A. “The benefits to owning the urgent care clinics are the community outreach and the ability to innovate to meet changing consumer needs. The challenges are that there is a lot of competition, the healthcare landscape changes every year, and it is challenging to educate patients so that they become willing to change the way they consume health care services.”
Q. What is the journey that brought you to the concept of Urgent Care in Hawaii?
A. “I grew up in a farm north of Pittsburgh, PA and moved to Hawaii in 1997. I got a job in a hospital as a medical social worker but it wasn’t long before I realized that I was a healthcare entrepreneur at heart. I opened my first business in 1998 - called Case Management Inc. (CMI) - to serve frail rural elders with long-term health needs in CMI trained and managed foster homes. This model of care filled the necessity for more nursing home beds and allowed elders to age in their own community. The program is a vital component of long-term care across Hawaii. After several years, I recognized the need to serve the community in another way and that brought me to opening an urgent care clinic in 2011. When we sold CMI in 2012, we were serving 200 frail elders who would otherwise be living in nursing homes.”
Q. What is your personal motto or mission?
A. “My mission is service. I believe that people are our most valuable resource and we need to care for them. Discover your passion, pursue it with faith and trust that a power greater than you is leading the way. Show up every day, work hard and collaborate with others.”
Said Makai HR President Valerie Wang, “Donna has an incredible story that we are very excited to share! She was the first person to bring the concept of Urgent Care Plus to Hawaii, and has been innovating, reinventing and improving the Urgent Care space ever since. Her commitment to and personal mission of service is inspiring, and something that really resonates with our values. Urgent Care has and will continue to improve Health Care in Hawaii, and we are excited to see all of the impact they will continue to make.”
Learn more at http://ucarehi.com/urgent-care-plus/