According to the American Academy of Urgent Care Medicine (AACUM), the number of urgent care facilities has increased 14% to 9,300 centers since 2008.
The economics support this trend. The Urgent Care Association of America (UCAA, 2013 benchmark survey) showed that 83% of urgent care centers experienced growth, and approximately 88% of practices expanded an existing location or added a new location in 2014.
Any exploration of starting an urgent care center should begin with these considerations:
Consider an urgent care specialty
Although most urgent care providers have trained in internal, family or emergency medicine, consider offering some form of specialized care at your urgent care clinic.
Consultants at DoctorsManagement are seeing the emergence of walk-in orthopedic/sports medicine clinics or even after-hours pediatric urgent care clinics. These facilities can triage and attend to injuries and illnesses without the need to schedule appointments with physician offices hours or days in advance.
Other urgent care clinics offer cash-based services and market medical weight loss, substance abuse treatment, or aesthetic services to complement their walk-in primary care.
Determine what lines of service your urgent care will provide, then equip and select experienced staff to deliver that care.
Just be careful not to extend beyond the scope of your own practice experience or professional capacity.
Choose your location carefully
Location has always been a factor for physicians opening a practice, but going where patients live and work is particularly relevant when selecting a site for an urgent care center.
Make sure to analyze demographics and market conditions in the community where you plan to open your urgent care. Select a location near your ideal target patient population, then design your clinic to best serve them.
For example, an industrial or corporate park may be an ideal location for those specializing in occupational medicine, while proximity to a community sports complex or schools is a natural fit for those focusing on sports- related injuries, physicals and vaccinations.
Commercial town centers, where consumers shop or do errands, are optimal, high-visibility locations for an urgent care center, but bear in mind that you may find competition from other urgent care providers.
The UCAA estimates that you may find an average of four urgent care centers for the average target market population of 114,000.