Urgent Care Centers: Update

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Urgent care centers — walk-in medical clinics that treat minor conditions such as sprains and colds, as well as conduct imaging and blood tests — have seen significant growth in recent years.

1. There are approximately 9,000 urgent care centers in the U.S., according to the Urgent Care Association of America. In its 2012 survey of urgent care centers, 40 percent expected to expand their existing site or add another site.

2. Seventy-five percent of urgent care centers are located in suburban areas, 15 percent in urban areas and 10 percent in rural areas.

3. About half of urgent care centers are freestanding buildings, and the other half are in retail shopping centers, according to the National Association for Ambulatory Care.

4. Eighty-five percent of urgent care centers are open seven days a week, with 95 percent closing after 7 p.m. In 2012, an urgent care center had an average of 357 patient visits per week.

5. Sixty-nine percent of urgent care centers have wait times of less than 20 minutes, 28 percent have wait times between 21 and 40 minutes and 3 percent have more than a 40 minute-wait.

6. The most common diagnosis in an urgent care center was upper respiratory condition, and the most common procedure was wound repair. Fewer than 4 percent of patients needed a transfer to an emergency department.

7. Approximately 20,000 physicians practice urgent care medicine. The most common physician specialty is family medicine at 47.8 percent, followed by emergency medicine at 30.1 percent.

8. In 2010, the annual median compensation range for urgent care physicians was $170,000 to $179,000.

9. According to an Urgent Care Association of America survey:

  • 51 percent of visits were reimbursed by private insurance
  • 14 percent of visits were reimbursed by Medicare
  • 13 percent of visits were reimbursed by occupational medicine (includes employer contracts and workers compensation) 
  • 12 percent of visits were reimbursed by self-pay
  • 10 percent of visits were reimbursed by Medicaid/public

10. The investment needed to open a stand-alone urgent care center with on-site x-ray machines and other equipment is $750,000 to $1 million, according to Marketdata Enterprises.


11. As of Aug. 1, the top 10 multi-state urgent care operators include the following, according to Merchant Medicine:

  • Concentra — 307 clinics
  • US HealthWorks — 145 clinics
  • MedExpress — 114 clinics
  • NextCare — 86 clinics
  • AFC Doctors Express — 69 clinics
  • FastMed — 54 clinics
  • Doctors Care — 52 clinics
  • Patient First — 46 clinics
  • CareSpot — 45 clinics
  • American Family Care — 37 clinics

12. Here is a breakdown of urgent care center ownership in 2012:

  • 35.4 percent of centers owned by physicians or physician groups, down from 50 percent in 2010
  • 30.5 percent owned by a corporation, up from 13.5 percent in 2010
  • 25.2 percent owned by a hospital
  • 4.4 percent owned by a non-physician individual
  • 2.2 percent owned by a franchise

Source: Becker’s Hospital Review