September 15, 2021 – The United States has seen dramatic shifts in politics, culture, technology – and even healthcare – in the 20 years since 9-11. One major trend in U.S. healthcare has been the emergence of urgent care.
The following are three things to know about urgent care centers.
What are urgent care centers?
According to Business Insider, urgent care centers are “convenient, on-demand care outlets similar to walk-in retail clinics, but rather than treating low-acuity conditions such as bronchitis and minor infections, urgent care clinics are equipped to treat more serious ailments, including fractures, sprains, and wounds.
They also offer services like blood tests, stitching, and X-rays.”
Urgent care centers can serve as a first step in the patient journey as well by referring patients to follow-up appointments or ERs.
How many urgent care centers are there?
The reported number of urgent care centers (UCCs) in the United States can vary. Based on the Urgent Care Association’s definition, a June 2019 count totaled 9,279 centers, according to a UCA White Paper.
UCA has historically reported industry growth of approximately 400-500 new centers per year. The 2018 number and accompanying heat map represent those centers in its database through November:
- YR 2014 – 6,400 Centers
- YR 2015 – 6,946 Centers
- YR 2016 – 7,271 Centers
- YR 2017 – 8,125 Centers
- YR 2018 – 8,774 Center
Who owns urgent care centers?
Urgent care centers emerged largely as a physician or physician group strategy.
In an early UCA Benchmarking Report based on the calendar year 2008, 54.1% of centers were physician owned while hospitals represented 24.8% of the total.
By 2014, physician ownership had dropped to 40% and hospital ownership increased to 37% of respondents. Healthcare systems such as Dignity Health, HCA, Aurora Health, Intermountain Health and Carolinas Healthcare have all made significant commitments to urgent care in their communities and beyond, according to the UCA White Paper.