20 things to know about urgent care | 2015

Although the number of urgent care centers in the U.S. has decreased in recent years, these clinics are as popular as ever with patients and consumers looking to receive convenient and affordable treatment for minor conditions, imaging and blood tests.

Highlighted below are 20 facts and statistics to know about the urgent care market.

1. In 2013, there were approximately 6,400 urgent care centers in the U.S., according to the Urgent Care Association of America 2014 Benchmarking Survey. That number is down from the UCAA's last count of approximately 9,000 in 2011.1*

2. Roughly 88 percent of urgent care centers expected patient visits to increase and expand to an existing or additional location in 2014 according to the UCAA 2014 Benchmarking Survey. Approximately one third (32 percent) of urgent care centers expected patient visits to stay the same in 2014 compared to previous years while 2 percent of urgent care centers expected patient visits to decline and offices to close. (Editor's Note: The percentages do not add up to 100 because respondents were given the option of checking more than one answer).2

3. At most urgent care centers (90 percent), the wait time to see a provider is 30 minutes or less, and total patient throughput is 60 minutes or less at 84 percent of urgent care centers.2

4. Eighty-five percent of urgent care centers provide urgent or episodic care exclusively, whereas 15 percent provide urgent and ongoing primary care and supporting the medical home. 2

5. More than half (63 percent) of urgent care patients have an outside primary care physician.2

6. Nearly all urgent care centers in 2014 operate seven days a week (97 percent) and are open at least 4 hours per day (99 percent). 2

7. The 2014 benchmarking survey also found more than 80 percent of urgent care centers reported offering walk-in, after-hours and weekend access so patients can seek healthcare services from quality providers at the times most convenient for them. 3

8. One average, current urgent care clinics have been in operation for seven years. 2

9. Urgent care clinics average seven exam/treatment rooms.2

10. Nearly half of all visits to urgent care centers result in an average charge of less than $150 — compared to the average cost of an ER visit at $1,354.3

11. According to the 2014 UCAA benchmarking survey, urgent care center locations include:

  • Shopping centers/strip malls (38 percent)
  • Freestanding buildings (32 percent)
  • Medical offices (20 percent); and
  • Mixed-use buildings (9 percent). 2

12. In 2013, the most recent year of data available, 82 percent of urgent care centers were located in suburban areas, up from 75 percent in 2011 and 45 percent in 2009. Meanwhile, the number of urgent care centers located in urban and rural areas decreased in 2013 to 11 percent and 8 percent, respectively, from 14 percent and 10 percent in 2011 and 22 percent and 21 percent in 2009.1

13. On average, an urgent care center receives approximately 357 patient visits per week, which translates to more than 3 million patients per week or 160 million patients annually nationwide, according to the UCAA. 4 

14. The average patient-per-hour ratio for urgent care physicians is 4.5 patients per hour, according to the American Academy of Urgent Care Medicine. This will vary on the severity or acuity of the patient's conditions.5

15. At centers with EMR templates and protocols in place, the patient-per-hour ratio for urgent care physicians can go up to approximately six to eight patients. 5

16. As of March 2014, the 10 hospitals and health systems that own the most urgent care clinics, according to Merchant Medicine, are:

  • Dignity (San Francisco): 152 clinics
  • Aurora Health (Milwaukee, Wis.): 30
  • Intermountain Healthcare (Salt Lake City): 28
  • Carolinas HealthCare (Charlotte, N.C.): 24
  • Centra Care (Orlando, Fla.): 23
  • HealthPartners (St. Louis Park, Minn.): 23
  • Providence Health & Services (Renton, Wash.): 21
  • Sutter Urgent Care, part of Sutter Medical Foundation (Sacramento, Calif.): 19
  • Baptist South Florida (Coral Gables): 17
  • St. John Providence Health System (Warren, Mich.): 17

17. In 2014, the UCAA unveiled a new, first-of-its-kind accreditation and certification program for the urgent care industry. 4

18. Since 2008, investors have pumped roughly $3 billion into the burgeoning urgent care industry, according data in the report from research firm Pitchbook.

19. In a 2014 white paper from McGuireWoods and UCAA, one industry professional predicted the urgent care industry will see a lot of activity through 2019 and beyond, since some large metropolitan areas could support two to three times the number of current urgent care providers.6

20. One industry expert — Stan Blaylock, CEO of Physicians Immediate Care, a chain of urgent care centers and occupational health services — predicts most urgent care consolidation and transactions will "shake out" in the next three to five years. In 2019 and beyond, there will be fewer key players in the urgent care industry mostly consisting of large regional chains of urgent care centers. 6

 

 

Footnotes:

1 Urgent Care Association of America. "2014 Urgent Care Benchmarking Survey Results." 2014. Available online at https://ucaoa.site-ym.com/store/ViewProduct.aspx?id=3657264

2 Urgent Care Association of America. "2014 Urgent Care Benchmarking Survey Results." Urgent Care Industry Benchmarking Survey Headlines Summary. 2014. Available online at http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.ucaoa.org/resource/resmgr/Benchmarking/UCAOA-BenchmarkSurvey_Infogr.pdf

3 Urgent Care Association of America. "Urgent Care Association of America Releases 2014 Urgent Care Survey, Shows Major Industry-Wide Expansion." December 2014. Available online at http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/urgent-care-association-of-america-releases-2014-urgent-care-survey-shows-major-industry-wide-expansion-300001736.html

4 Urgent Care Association of America. "The Urgent Care Association of America Unveils New Accreditation Program." March 2014. Available online at http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/the-urgent-care-association-of-america-unveils-new-accreditation-program-251207411.html

5 American Academy of Urgent Care Medicine. "Future of Urgent Care." 2015. Available online at http://aaucm.org/about/future/default.aspx

6 McGuireWoods and UCAA. "2019 and Beyond: Perspectives of 15 Urgent Care Leaders." March 20, 2014. Available online at https://www.mcguirewoods.com/news-resources/publications/health_care/Perspectives-15-UC-Leaders.pdf

* UCAOA has vetted those 6,400 urgent care centers and know they are operating. The 9,000 figure previously referenced from 2011 most likely included some retail health centers or other anomalies.

 

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that one third (32 percent) of urgent care centers expected  patient visits to decline and offices to close while 2 percent of urgent care centers expected patient visits to stay the same in 2014 compared to previous years. Those numbers are actually switched. We regret this error.

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