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5 Questions with CityMD CEO Richard Park

Dr. Richard Park is on a mission to make healthcare more inclusive, one urgent care center at a time. As the CEO of CityMD, Richard is driving the brand forward with consumer-centric tenets familiar to the hospitality and retail industries. The brand’s consideration of the communities it serves help the centers to feel familiar and a part of the neighborhood while satisfying needs for accessibility and on-demand service. Currently, consumers can find a CityMD in three states (New York, New Jersey and Washington), where they’ll find on-site practitioners, x-rays and lab testing, and thoughtful aftercare.

I’ve taken the journey myself a few times and experienced the brand firsthand. The HCPs I worked with made sure I got the specialist care I needed and followed up with the human touch afterwards to make sure I was doing better. That’s a different healthcare experience than most of us are used to, but as consumerism increases in the industry, we can expect it to grow. And brands that embrace a more consumer-centric focus will continue to attract a larger market, taking share from more traditional routes to care.

Richard and I caught up at the inaugural HLTH Conference in Las Vegas to talk more about the business and his vision for the CityMD brand. Richard speaks on May 7 at 10:10am PST; the subject: “Investing in Solutions Targeted to Consumers.”

CityMD can change each patient’s journey—assuming he or she walks in the door. What’s your strategy for customer acquisition? What are the barriers to trial?

CityMD is built on the foundation of always delivering the best possible patient care to everyone. Our mission is to provide an exceptional experience through this high-quality medical care, as well as convenient access to it. We are always looking to help patients by making healthcare easier and more affordable, by providing more value, by gaining their trust to help guide them to the right place to make the right healthcare decisions, and by saving them money. That’s how we attract our patients and keep them coming back. It’s the only strategy we need to thrive.

The reward for CityMD is the same reward for patients, payers/healthcare insurance companies, and society—saving money and building kinder, healthier communities. Our growth is focused on increasing access. With more than 100 urgent care locations across the New York Metro Area, we are only about ten minutes away from most residents in these communities. We want to increase healthcare access for patients through our many locations to offer more medical services to more patients in the area.

As with any business, there are barriers to trial. Awareness and utilization of urgent care centers in the New York metro area are low. According to a 2018 UCAOA and SKDKnickerbocker CityMD study, only 37% of consumers in the New York metro area have used urgent care in the last two years and only 23% of urgent care users in New York metro area have used CityMD in the last two years. We are continuing to focus our marketing and public relations efforts on increasing consumer awareness of CityMD and the CityMD difference, and on our partnerships with payers/insurance companies, employers and healthcare systems.

What’s your partnership strategy when it comes to growth? How are you considering when to align with a health system? How are you evaluating both your and a potential partner’s brand equity when considering a relationship?

An exceptional experience starts the moment a patient first visits CityMD. Our medical staff of more than 400 not only helps patients get well by seeing an expert provider fast (usually in 8 minutes or less), but also helps keep patients well—from following up with them after their visit to coordinating care with their healthcare team.

We look for high-quality, like-minded employer, payer and health system collaborative partners who share our vision, mission and values, and who enable us to not only continue making healthcare more inclusive by providing an exceptional experience through high-quality medical care and convenient access, but also to manage population health and serve our patients where they work and live.

Our partners are critical to care coordination and the delivery of expanded convenient, accessible, in-network care and referral management. As we increase our partnerships, we continue to provide a seamless patient experience

The consumer mindset around health is rapidly evolving and CityMD seems to be ahead of the curve in recognizing this. What are the challenges to consistency for the brand? How do you ensure standards are being met?

Today’s customer-centric world demands that companies put the consumer first – and healthcare is no different. CityMD delivers value and an exceptional experience because we bring a retail-minded philosophy and hospitality service to healthcare, something that was uncommon even a decade ago, and our patients appreciate and expect this type of service consistently across all our locations.

The CityMD brand is highly recognizable to our patients. According to a recent CityMD market footprint survey, among current CityMD users, 90% say CityMD looks clean and modern, and 80% say CityMD has high-quality medical staff, is affordable and has short wait times. It’s feedback like this that ensures we are truly serving our communities and upholding a reputation in line with our mission and values.

92% of patients have two to three urgent care choices that are “convenient” (2018 UCAOA and SKDKnickerbocker CityMD study). Convenient access to medical care is just the baseline of what today’s healthcare consumers are looking for. At CityMD, we offer our patients healthcare access 365 days per year, including weekend, evening and holiday hours.

We also offer multiple high-quality medical services (rapid testing, X-rays, etc.) without appointments, handle more complex healthcare issues (higher acuity) to keep them out of the ER and support our patients with our unique, centralized Aftercare team and referral management services to guide them through the complicated maze of healthcare and help them make the right decisions while saving them time and money.

Generations “consume” healthcare in different ways. One could argue that traditional healthcare was about a relationship with an HCP whereas you’ve built a business around the relationship with a brand experience. How much, if at all, did you consider generational choice drivers as you built the brand? What have you found to be the psychographic or demographic profile of your core audience?

CityMD patients tend to skew toward the Millennial population in the New York Metro Area—younger, urban and higher income, according to a recent CityMD market footprint survey. This includes some Millennial parents (just under half), who are employed and live in Manhattan or Brooklyn with middle to upper incomes. This younger demographic that readily seeks healthcare provides significant growth opportunities as a core audience. We also see more female patients (60%) than male patients, and they make most of the healthcare decisions for their families (spouses, children and parents). We regularly keep this female demographic in mind as we consider further expansion of services.

But CityMD is not looking to only serve these core audiences, we want to provide care to everyone on our communities. We strive to open urgent care centers in underserved areas to increase access to high-quality medical care. Our locations in these areas are designed with the same great look and feel and staffed with the same expert medical professionals as those in the more affluent neighborhoods. We believe in responding to the needs of our core audiences and those within underserved areas because they are all part of the communities we serve.

I’d love a little preview about your topic here at HLTH. Have healthcare companies failed to service consumers properly? Is innovation possible within the current ecosystem? Or are disruptive brands and leaders required to push the industry forward?

Companies today are striving to be innovators, disruptors or to just to be ‘new.’ At CityMD, we recognize that the most innovative concept is going back to the basics. We believe in putting the humanity back in healthcare and regaining the trust of our patients by taking great care of them when they are at their most vulnerable, when they’re sick or injured, and following up with them to make sure they are feeling better and on the right path back to wellness. We treat them as if they are members of our own families. Every member of our company embraces this “old-but-new” way of delivering healthcare.

This interview originally appeared on brandchannel.


Director of Marketing, InterbrandHealth