Health systems are increasingly investing in express care strategies to expand their reach deeper into their communities as well as cut costs. Health systems are seeking to connect with the patient at all levels of care and are creating their own urgent care centers and often affiliating themselves with retail clinics.
Urgent care centers can help health systems bridge the primary care gap for patients with high-quality care for common illnesses and non-life-threatening episodic events such as sprains, broken bones, flu, colds, and other common illnesses. Urgent care centers provide immediate care, screening, and diagnostic services. They provide walk-in, extended-hour access for acute illness and injury care that is either beyond the scope or the accessibility/ availability of the typical primary care practice or clinic.
According to the Urgent Care Association, physician ownership of urgent care centers are decreasing and health system/hospital ownership is increasing as the $18 billion industry is projected to grow nearly 6% in 2018. Urgent care clinics handle about 89 million patient visits each year, or more than 29 percent of all primary care visits in the country, and nearly 15 percent of all outpatient physician visits.
HCA Healthcare, Inc. (HCA) is one of the nation’s leading providers of healthcare services, comprising 185 hospitals and approximately 2,000 sites of care, including surgery centers, freestanding ERs, urgent care centers, and physician clinics, in 21 states and the United Kingdom.
HCA’s growth agenda includes growing its presence in existing markets by expanding its footprint through developing various outpatient access points, including surgery centers, urgent care clinics, freestanding emergency care facilities and walk-in clinics.
HCA recently announced the purchase of 24 MedSpring urgent care centers from Fresenius Medical Care. The urgent care centers, located in Austin, Dallas and Houston, will be rebranded as CareNow Urgent Care, which is operated by HCA Healthcare and represents one of the largest urgent care networks in the country. As a result of the acquisition, HCA Healthcare has 160 urgent care centers across the country.
HCA’s focus is to strengthen and expand its services in the fast growing Texas markets and offer patients healthcare services close to their residences and workplaces. HCA’s expansion of CareNow is part of the company’s strategy to protect the company against the evolving regulatory uncertainties in the healthcare sector.