The ambulatory care center opened its fifth location in the Charleston region last week in Summerville. The Charleston region will be a test market to determine factors such as how close each location should be to a hospital and how demographics determine the growth potential for the business.
|Nason Medical Center opened this location on Ladson Road in Summerville last week. The company said the location will be the fifth and final site for its ambulatory care business in the Lowcountry as it considers new locations to expand. (Photo/Andy Owens)|
With 240 employees and five locations through the Lowcountry, Nason Medical Center has built-out the Charleston area and is now ready to expand.
Dr. Barron Nason, one of three partners in the business and the most visible face of ambulatory care in the region, explained the growth strategy inside the company’s newest location on Ladson Road in Summerville. He said his partners have strong business skills, which allows him to focus on the patient experience.
“I think that’s one of my strengths as a physician business owner,” Nason said. “I’m not a banker. I’m not an MBA.”
When the company opened in January 2005, Nason said he and his partners contracted with a polling company to find out what patients who visit medical care facilities wanted most from a visit.
Because the level of care and kinds of treatments to fix specific ailments are generally the same, what patients really wanted came down to shorter wait times, and they want to feel like someone cares about them, so the attitude of every employee must exude sincerity. Nason said patients also want doctors to communicate with them, but not arrogantly. Last on the list was getting treated.
“Patients want to be seen in a timely manner,” Nason said. “It’s one of the greatest gifts we give people.”
Nason Medical squeezes out efficiencies that other medical facilities overlook but could easily implement. For example, every time a doctor or physician’s assistant sees a patient, they’re accompanied by a scribe who takes notes, orders medications and updates records.
Nason said that allows the doctor to focus on patient communication instead of record-keeping and it results in a better experience for everyone.
“It’s all about efficiencies,” he said. “In traditional medicine, it’s all about the doctor. What we’re doing is focusing on the needs of patients, not health care professionals.”
Nason said the company does have some competitive advantages over traditional medical facilities. They cannot take patients who are delivered by ambulance. A patient must be able to come to the center for care.
Because there are no overnight stays, the company doesn’t have to have permits from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control for beds, but they do have to receive a certificate of need for CT scanners, which each location has along with a full-service lab and radiology services.
The company also doesn’t take dementia patients, those who are inebriated or have psychological problems. That allows Nason and other urgent care centers to operate without those extras costs or regulations that govern that type of care.
The company has not determined the best location to move beyond the Lowcountry. Nason said the Charleston region will be a test market to determine factors such as how close each location should be to a hospital and how demographics determine the growth potential for the business.
The Summerville location, which opened a week ago, is a short walk from Summerville Medical Center, which is part of Trident Health and not affiliated with Nason. He said that the location was by design and will help the company determine its next move, but he emphasized that anyone who is in an ambulance will be taken to the hospital and not to an urgent care center.
In the past week, Summerville has had 50 patients, Nason said. In the past week, he also gave his orientation speech to 12 new employees. The company has 10 physicians, 12 physician’s assistants and sees more than 10,000 patients a month across the Lowcountry.
“How’s that for a little startup?” he said.