The economic downturn, looming entitlement reforms and potential budget cuts in the United States at the federal and state level are allowing the development of urgent care clinics, otherwise known as immediate care clinics, to substantially increase. This is considered to be a remedy to fill in the growing doctor shortage.
Based on industry reports and spending by large healthcare operators, the amount of Closest Urgent Care is projected to soar in the next decade. It is actually estimated more and more than 8,000 urgent care clinics happen to be established – other numbers show 9,000 – and also the Urgent Care Association of America reports eight to 10 percent annual growth.
Urgent care facilities are not the same than traditional hospitals and therefore are rather similar to the health clinics found in places like Walmart and Walgreen because they are usually open on evenings and weekends and treat common medical issues – some immediate care clinics provide additional services like X-rays for broken bones.
Some healthcare professionals like to consider their urgent care clinics as after-hours doctors’ offices. Most of people who work in such a workplace do note, however, patients may not reach see a board-certified doctor or any other kind of specialist.
A large percentage of walk-in clinics and urgent care offices are managed and operated by non-profit health systems, which receive donations and contributions in order to fund construction and renovation costs, patient care program support, general operations costs and equipment purchases, based on the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy’s (AHP) annual Report on Giving study.
Because of so many of these operations establishing in malls, main streets and in major metropolitan cities, can the non-profit sector even pay for them? Well, Reuters is reporting that private equity firms have already been investing money into urgent care clinics in the last several years. While there is a significant risk in investing in these clinics because of the possibility of oversaturation and low insurance reimbursements, these firms work one-on-one with clinics to offer quality as well as make profit.
Rand Health found that retailers are entering the healthcare marketplace too. Big box stores, like Target and Walmart, only had some of these clinics in the year 2000, these days there are many than 1,200.
“Retail clinics emphasize convenience, with extended weekend and evening hours, no appointments, and short wait times,” the organization states in their report. “A lot more than 44 percent of retail clinic visits occur when physician offices are usually closed. Price transparency and low costs may additionally be particularly attractive for individuals without insurance.”
This is surely part of the profit-motive for such corporations.
Whatever the concerns one may have over the private sector getting involved in this type of industry, urgent care clinics are part of the nation’s future healthcare market, especially since President Obama’s Affordable Care Act is bqbxru law in the land and will put in a burden to the system.
“Many factors could influence the way forward for retail clinics in the U.S. First, the growing body of evidence casting doubt on quality-of-care concerns could lead to greater acceptance and make use of of retail clinics,” Rand added.
“Full implementation in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) may also lead to continued retail clinic growth. With additional people insured as well as an increased demand for primary care underneath the ACA, usage of primary care physicians could decrease. This may lead to increased interest in retail clinics. Similarly, if wait times for physician appointments increase-as has become the case in Massachusetts following its health reform-this might also increase retail clinic demand.”
Despite the concerns that some may have about private investment possibly cutting costs to increase its bottom line, urgent care clinics must offer remedies to health issues otherwise the buyer should go elsewhere to get proper medical attention.