Urgent Care Facilities Create New Opportunities in the Healthcare Sector

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Across the country and perhaps throughout the world, urgent care facilities are changing the landscape of healthcare as we know it. According to new data from the Urgent Care Association of America, nearly 90% of such facilities have witnessed increases in the number of patients seen, averaging close to 50 per day.

“More Americans are seeking care in an on-demand, convenience-focused environment,” said Shaun Ginter, a UCAOA board member and president and CEO of the CareWell Urgent Care chain. “Urgent care centers cater to busy lifestyles and the needs of patients.”

Urgent care centers, which usually address serious but not life-threatening illnesses and injuries such as fractures, lacerations, X-rays, and flu treatments, got their start in the 1970s in the U.S., but have grown exponentially around the world since then. They offer an alternative to hospitals and can help prevent emergency room overcrowding, according to much research.

For investors who got into the urgent care system on the ground floor, it has been a prosperous time of good business returns. Bing Yeo, the managing director of AFC Urgent Care centers in Massachusetts, came from a business background before investing in Doctors Express in 2011. The company was acquired by AFC two years ago.

“ERs are congested. Most primary care doctors don’t have X-rays on site,” Yeo explained, showing how urgent care provides an easy compromise in the health sector. “I thought this was a good model. It’s more consumer-friendly.”

Indeed, most urgent care facilities don’t require appointments to be made ahead of time, and 85% across the country are open seven days a week. As insurance coverage becomes more available to Americans, many will be looking for affordable ways to address both sick and preventative care, which means that the urgent care marketplace still has potential to grow, at home and abroad.

“Our number one priority is service improvement and patient care which means the way we deliver our services, where and how often, needs to change,” said a spokesperson for Lincolnshire Health and Care in the UK. “This emphasis on local delivery is a key part of the plan as we move towards providing more care in a range of community settings that are closer to where people live, ensuring that patients receive the right care locally.”

But it’s important to note, said Yeo, that urgent care is not in “competition” with any other healthcare models, such as traditional primary care offices or hospitals themselves. Instead, they simply offer more options — and in turn, better health possibilities for all.

“We have large supermarkets like Wegmans, then we have Stop and Shop, Hannaford and even CVS. Then you have convenience stores. You can buy a carton of milk from any one of those places,” he said by way of analogy. “Primary care, ERs, urgent care, we are all part of the overall health equation.”

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