New Study Predicts 1,000+ Urgent Care Centers Opening in the US Over Next Five Years

A New study from Kalorama Information said that the number of urgent care centers in the US is expected to increase from approximately 10,600 currently to more than 12,000 by 2023.

The report, The Market for U.S. Urgent Care projects a growing market for the urgent care center business and a growing market for suppliers selling to them.

To some extent this will not be surprising.  According to the study, urgent care centers charged just $168 per visit on average in 2015.  Hospital-based emergency department visits, on average, charged more than $2,250 per visit in 2015. The charge was approximately $2,200 at some freestanding emergency care clinics. Most of the visits, regardless of facility, were for 20 of the most common diagnoses, and prices for patients with the same diagnosis were, on average, almost 10 times higher at ERs.

“There may be a maturing of urgent care center growth as the industry begins to mature, and locations compete with one another in similar healthcare service quadrants.” said Bruce Carlson, Publisher of Kalorama Information.  “But there will be growth and growth in supply markets.”

Kalorama Information expects to see a compound annual growth rate of more than 3% overall through 2023 in terms of center revenue.

Urgent care clinics came into reality in the 1970s and have grown to meet the needs of both rising healthcare costs and the need of consumers for convenient access to healthcare.  Some of the growth is the result of hospital systems starting urgent care centers to reduce the demand at their hospital emergency rooms, aiming to make those areas of their system more profitable.

Other centers were started by entrepreneurial physicians to grow their income while meeting a market need.

Urgent care centers have evolved into an established segment of the US healthcare industry, with steady growth expected through 2023.

This growth is expected to continue as new partnerships and players emerge in the urgent care space. Walgreens drug stores have joined with UnitedHealth Group MedExpress to open more urgent care centers which would be near or adjacent to Walgreens drugstores.

The effort has reached more than a dozen urgent care centers in six states.

Insurers are happy with urgent care as they see the model as a way to maintain patient health and keep people away from inpatient hospital settings, which are more costly. Such a value-based approach to medicine is increasingly replacing the fee-for-service model that emphasizes volume of medical care delivered.

Urgent care is growing due to patient demand, convenience, and lower costs. A patient seeking medical care does not like to wait for long periods of time to see a provider. Urgent care clinics, with their longer hours and walk-in appointments, fulfill this need for speed in a way traditional physician’s offices usually cannot.