A Virtual Urgent Care Clinic for Orthopaedics?

HURT! was created by Brett A. Miller, MD, a Missouri-based orthopaedic surgeon, to serve as a “virtual” orthopaedic urgent care alternative to brick and mortar orthopaedic urgent care clinics.

TOA recently sat down with Dr. Miller to discuss the app and its potential use in the musculoskeletal space.

TOA: Some orthopaedic practices started creating dedicated orthopaedic urgent care clinics outside of traditional business hours. However, some of the practices have pulled back that model.

Brett Miller: This is a nice article that supports the opposite:

In addition, most orthopedic urgent care models are no more than an extension of your clinical practice. Internally, it is billed and treated just like a normal office visit. In the midwest, we are seeing the complete opposite – everyone is expanding their access by offering “urgent care” (essentially walk-in) services.  

Not everyone is extending office hours. HURT! can enhance the orthopedic urgent care business by becoming an extension of that service.  It is easy for our medical response team to navigate patients who submit after business hours next day to walk-in, urgent care centers. This way, they still get the expert level orthopedic care without the hassle of being worked into one of the surgeon’s already busy schedule.  

TOA: What do you think the future is of the brick and mortar orthopaedic urgent care clinic?

Brett Miller: I don’t think a free standing orthopedic only urgent care is a good model.  It should be attached to an already viable orthopedic practice.  We see orthopedic urgent care as a comprehensive MSK service model just like having onsite advanced imaging and therapy services.  The more practices are able to control the MSK narrative, the less patient leakage to competitors and better patient retention for future problems.  

TOA: What kind of market penetration does HURT! have in terms of orthopaedic surgeons who are part of the network?

Brett Miller: We are blanketing the midwest first, essentially moving state by state.  We are about to finish Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Iowa offerings.  We have identified target practices in Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Texas as our next move. In addition, we have some opportunities with very prominent practices in Arizona, Colorado, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Utah, and Florida.  We really have no limits to scale but are trying to grow intelligently.  

We offer a subscription service with market exclusivity much like a franchise.  We have chosen this model for several reasons. First and foremost, we only want to work with practices who provide high quality and high value care. Our mission is to improve access to orthopedic expertise which will lead to reduced costs and more rapid recovery.  

Healthcare is a decade behind the service and financial industries in addressing the consumers needs first.  The net promotor scores for healthcare are in the single digits which is abysmal.  HURT! puts the consumer in control of the narrative and focuses on their needs first. Our orthopedic practice partners win by having intelligent and mostly commercially insured patients navigated to their clinics.

TOA: What is the short-term goal for HURT in terms of market penetration for surgeons over the next 12 months?

Brett Miller: We are making a big push now and will continue through the summer. The best time to implement is now in preparation for the busy fall sports season. We are getting three to five inquiries a week from practices who want to be a part of our network.  

TOA: This is a business to consumer business, which means that it will have to hit a large universe of consumers. What is your strategy for marketing to all of the consumers in a given market?

Brett Miller: We started with a consumer-based marketing approach and found out how challenging and expensive it can be.  

We now work with practices to internally market to their patient base by being “Powered by HURT!”. Our most popular product is “Virtual Sideline,” a way for sports medicine practices to extend their offerings to all of youth sports, middle schools, and underserved rural communities. This way, practices maintain their own brand and identity and offer HURT! as a tool for their patients.  This is no different than your total joint surgeons marketing the use of a “Robot” to aid in their surgeries.  The total joint surgeon is still the focal point of care delivery, but the message is that they care enough about their patients to make sure they are offering the most up to date treatments available.  

In addition, we have a business development team that works with local businesses to aggregate lives. We have business clients in the financial industry, school districts, municipalities, construction, transportation, and essentially every other business sector. We offer “HURT! Premium” to our business clients which is a white glove high end service for their employees. In addition to saving businesses money on wasted health care spending, we can reduce absenteeism by getting their workers expedited orthopedic care.  

TOA: Are there any competitors out there attempting a similar kind of model?

Brett Miller: I will say I have searched for this service over and over and have never found a similar model. There are lots of healthcare tech start up companies focusing on MSK since it’s the number most expensive segment of care. They are all approaching it by charging the patient a fee or trying to work with payers.  

We are unique and different in that we have taken a simple and direct approach to navigate MSK patients to orthopedic experts for free. Our proprietary process took years to develop, and I’ve been watching others closely. To date, we are the only ones taking this approach.  

Our goal is to create the largest private MSK network in the country. We see how our members have embraced this technology and approach and have several repeat users.  It’s no different that ordering your first burrito through a mobile app.  Once you’ve taken that first step, you will never stand in line again.