HCA's urgent care boom

Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA Healthcare has been ramping up its acquisition of urgent care facilities in recent years as care continues to move toward outpatient settings where there is an emphasis on lower costs, higher quality and more convenience for patients. 

Gaps in primary care, high costs of emergency room visits and increased health system and private equity investment have also contributed to the growth of the urgent care market, which is projected to hit $48 billion in revenue this year, up 21 percent from 2019, according to IBISWorld.

Health systems also understand that urgent care is not going away and many are acquiring or partnering with urgent care groups to decrease market competition and act as a funnel for their specialty care services. 

HCA currently operates about 2,300 outpatient sites — 268 of which are urgent care facilities — and 180 hospitals. Forty-five of those hospitals and 92 of those urgent care centers are in Texas. 

The health system's latest acquisition in the space involves the purchase of 41 Texas urgent care centers from FastMed. The deal, expected to close this summer, includes 19 FastMed and 22 MedPost urgent care centers in several of Texas' major cities, including Dallas and Austin.

Once the acquisition is completed, HCA will have 309 urgent care facilities nationwide. 

The addition of the urgent care locations "will provide convenient outpatient care options when and where [patients] need it" and "help seamlessly connect these patients to our broader healthcare network when a higher level of care or specialty service is needed," Erol Akdamar, president of HCA's American Group, said in a news release.

In addition to the South, HCA has also targeted the East Coast, buying up urgent care groups in Florida and Virginia last year.

In January 2022, HCA announced that it completed the acquisition of MD Now Urgent Care, a network of 59 urgent care centers in Florida and the state's largest urgent care chain. 

"The addition of MD Now Urgent Care in Florida enhances our already strong capabilities in a rapidly growing state by providing convenient outpatient care options for our patients," HCA CEO Sam Hazen said. "It also connects MD Now patients to a comprehensive statewide network of care, including acute care and specialty services should they be needed."

A few months later, in the summer of 2022, HCA acquired BetterMed, a 12-location urgent care group in Virginia.

Nonprofit health systems are also snapping up urgent care centers in other markets to capitalize on this market growth. Systems making urgent care moves in the last seven months include Dallas-based Baylor Scott & White, Little Rock, Ark.-based Baptist Health, Houston-based Memorial Hermann Health System and New Orleans-based Ochsner Health.

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