Hospitals Own More Than A Fourth of Free Standing Urgent Care Clinics

Stephen Wheeler…says he probably would have ended up waiting a long time if he’d gone to the doctor. And even longer at the emergency room.

But they are all about speedy service here at the urgent care center; Wheeler got in and out in 15 minutes. There’s a timer outside of every exam room so the staff knows how long a patient has been waiting. Because Wheeler was already in the MedStar Health system, the clinic was able to pull up his electronic health records and find out if he was allergic to any medications or was due for any other care.

Most of the 9,000 urgent care clinics nationwide are owned by corporations or physicians, but hospital systems are increasingly aiming to get a cut of the booming industry. Hospitals already own about 27 percent of the centers, according to the Urgent Care Association of America.

Source: KHN.

Comments (11)

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  1. Cindy says:

    A few thoughts on this:

    1. Some of the urgent care innovations are so sane and logical it’s ridiculous. The ability to check in online is a big perk at one by my house — so you can wait at home until they’re ready for you. Smart.

    2. There need to be more of these. It just makes so much sense to have a step between primary physician visit and ER. For so many reasons – including people going to the ER for not-quite-emergency-but-still-serious issues because their doctor can’t see them for a week or so.

    Just smart. No wonder hospitals want in.

  2. Jardinero1 says:

    These places are also really handy at night, Saturday, Sunday, and Holidays when my doctor is otherwise not seeing patients. The odds are that I will become sick and have time to go the doctor during a time that is not between 9:00 and 4:00, Monday thru Friday.

  3. Toby says:

    @Cindy your right the online sign in sheet is a major plus for everyone.

  4. Erik says:

    Speedy service should bring in more patients.

  5. Buster says:

    Over the past few years, the hospital industry has been consolidating into so-called Health Care Systems in an attempt to gain leverage against insurers. Hospitals are also buying physician practices in droves — allowing them to bill at more expensive, hospital outpatient rates. If a hospital owns an urgent care center, can it charge patient the higher hospital ER rates? I would like to think hospitals have got religion and want to serve the public better. But I cannot help but think they see some competitive advantage that will ultimately harm patients by ushering in anti-competitive practices.

  6. August says:

    “MedStar does not expect the new urgent care clinics to be major sources of revenue; the centers don’t tend to be big money-makers, and they can draw patients away from the hospitals’ waiting rooms. But they are valuable source of patient referrals for the hospital system.”

    “What we’re trying to do is use these sites really to cross-sell MedStar services,” says Gilbert.

    The profit motive at work. I like it.

  7. Peterson says:

    Im a big fan of these urgent care healthcare clinics.

  8. Robert says:

    Aside from planned visits, such as annual checkups with your PCP, I think these kinds of clinics are perfect for most minor problems and ailments. Have not really had a bad experience at any.

  9. Cristina says:

    Their positiveness towards the use of electronic medical records really astonished me. They are probably one of the few medical institutions I’ve actually heard approve the use of EMRs. This is what major hospitals and physicians need to do to have an efficient performance at the workplace. Little and simple things like using a timer in every exam room to track waiting times sounds pretty feasible to me. Not only that, but the benefits of using EMRs far outweighs their harm. This article shows it. If you use them propoerly and efficiently, then you can access a patient’s information in a timely manner and make the entire process easier on everyone involved. Excellent.

  10. seyyed says:

    i haven’t been to one but i know if i come down with something i’ll go to an urgent care clinic first based on all the positive reviews of how efficiently they operate

  11. Edge Kingston says:

    Apart from hospitals people are getting reliable and effective services in urgent care centers; therefore they used to preferred urgent care centers instead of hospitals to get beneficial health care services within an affordable price.