14 Things to know about the urgent care need in the United States in 2016

Consumers are seeking conveniently delivered healthcare. The urgent care model offers care designed around convenience. Health systems wanting to create more convenient options are building their urgent care platforms.

As the health systems build urgent care platforms it is helpful to understand the market need.

1. Urgent care is a rapidly growing segment of the healthcare industry. 30-40% growth is expected over the next five years.

2. At the end of 2015 there were approximately 116 million urgent care visits occurring in nearly 7,100 urgent care centers.

3. Demand and supply do not match in urgent care. Nationally, demand outpaces supply by 43%, though nearly half of this is due to the inability for urgent care to be financially viable in many rural and poor urban areas.

4. In markets with densities, payer mix and demographics to viably support a typical urgent care model, demand outpaces supply by 22%

5. Urgent care is generally a financially viable primary care model in markets where 12,000 or more visits can be captured with 50% or better underlying private insurance status.

6. There are numerous opportunities to expand urgent care in nearly every US metro area today.

7. Rural markets typically show more urgent care need, however most lack sufficient population density to support a typical urgent care model. Currently 98% of rural zip codes with populations of 14 million people, have unmet urgent care center needs.

8. The urgent care industry is highly fragmented with the top 10 operators only accounting for 17% of the total urgent care centers. These top 10 operators include:
• Concerta Urgent Care
• U.S. HealthWorks
• American Family Care
• MedExpress
• NextCare Urgent Care
• FastMed Urgent Care
• Patient First
• Carespot Express
• Doctors Care
• Physicians Urgent Care

9. Even though urgent care represents the largest on-demand primary care change and accounts for 13% of all primary care visits, Health systems have been slow to use the urgent care model to provide access.

10. Driven by the increasing healthcare consumes' demand for convenience, urgent care is more similar to retail operations than hospital or clinic operations and has been challenging for health systems to profitably operate.

11. As a first healthcare touch point, urgent care centers have the potential to connect new populations with health systems and thus are being evaluated by many health systems.

12. Only 22% of urgent care centers are owned by health systems.

13. Selected health systems have bet big on urgent care including:
• Dignity Health
• Aurora Health
• Intermountain Healthcare
• Carolinas Healthcare
• Adventist Health System
• HealthPartners

14. Other health systems are giving up control of this primary care channel and the patient touch points by outsourcing urgent care to for-profit operators.

About Urgent Care Partners
Urgent Care Partners focuses on building client capabilities and infrastructure, in order to deliver care in a way that is distinct from primary care and retail clinics, emergency rooms and virtual care platforms.

Urgent Care Partners offers full-service and turn-key urgent care center solutions, from strategy through design, including start-up, operations/management and transition to the client. These fully-customized solutions are designed to match the specific needs of the health system and integrate existing operational standards, software and processes that will ensure a smooth transition.

UCP has extensive experience managing joint commission and Det Norske Veritas accredited sites. Urgent Care Partners' process improvement tools and methodologies are concentrated on customer service and patient experience, and are designed around lean/six sigma process improvement standards.

About Health System Advisors
Health System Advisors advises hospital and health system leaders on their strategic issues. Our goal is to provide analysis, insight, and expertise as we facilitate leadership teams' to new ways of thinking and strategies that advance their organizations and thereby transform the industry.

The belief that strategic advisors must know the client situation to be effective means HSA has a different business model. We work directly with the leadership teams as they think through their challenges. Our partners both sell and engage in the project with the team of experience managers and consultants. Because we spend our time advising clients rather than flying in and out of meetings, we understand our clients better and have greater impact.

About the Authors
Chiara Beckner is a Strategy Consultant with Health System Advisors and is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She helps to support and coordinate strategic decisions while working with internal analyst teams and client work groups. Chiara provides market, financial and analytic services to clients. Chiara works to support clients in various types of healthcare strategy with experience in service line planning, recruitment strategy, and implementation planning.

Prior to joining Health System Advisors, Chiara completed her bachelor's degree in Physics at Carleton College in Northfield, MN. Additionally Chiara is a volunteer tutor in Minneapolis.

Luke C. Peterson is Vice President of Innovation at Urgent Care Partners and a Principal at Health System Advisors, both located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His experience in strategy consulting to the healthcare industry spans seventeen years. Mr. Peterson's consulting engagements have concentrated on system and organizational strategy and new ambulatory delivery models. Having worked throughout the country for national healthcare systems, regional community systems and independent community hospitals, he understands the strategic challenges facing healthcare providers today. His client list includes the largest healthcare systems, leading community and referral hospitals, and progressive academic medical centers throughout the country.

He is a frequent author and speaker and has advised numerous regional health systems on their path to create the capabilities to remain relevant, effective, and growing in the future environment.

Prior to joining Urgent Care Partners and Health System Advisors, Mr. Peterson spent fourteen years with Kurt Salmon, where he led their thought leadership on ambulatory and physician strategy and headed KSA's national healthcare strategy practice.

Mr. Peterson holds a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Minnesota in strategy and finance and is an avid runner.

The views, opinions and positions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of Becker's Hospital Review/Becker's Healthcare. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them.​

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