The downturn in the economy, looming entitlement reforms and potential budget cuts in america at the federal and state level are allowing the growth 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.
According to industry reports and spending by large healthcare operators, the amount of Urgent Care Locations is projected to soar inside the next decade. It is estimated more and more than 8,000 urgent care clinics have been 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 are rather just like the health clinics found in places like Walmart and Walgreen since they are usually open on evenings and weekends and treat common health problems – some immediate care clinics offer 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 these a business office do note, however, patients may not get to visit a board-certified doctor or another kind of specialist.
A large proportion 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 pay for 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.
With so many of such operations setting up in malls, main streets as well as 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 huge risk in investing in these clinics because of the potential for oversaturation and low insurance reimbursements, these firms work one-on-one with clinics to supply quality and also to make profit.
Rand Health found that retailers are entering the healthcare marketplace too. Big box stores, including Target and Walmart, only had some of these clinics around 2000, but today there are more than 1,200.
“Retail clinics emphasize convenience, with extended weekend and evening hours, no appointments, and short wait times,” the business states in the report. “Greater than 44 percent of retail clinic visits happen when physician offices are generally closed. Price transparency and low costs may additionally be particularly attractive for folks without insurance.”
This can be surely part of the profit-motive for such corporations.
Regardless of the concerns one may have within the private sector engaging in this kind 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 of the land and will add a burden to the system.
“Many factors could influence the way forward for retail clinics within the U.S. First, the growing body of evidence casting doubt on quality-of-care concerns could lead to greater acceptance and use of retail clinics,” Rand added.
“Full implementation from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) could also lead to continued retail clinic growth. With increased people insured and an increased interest in primary care underneath the ACA, use 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 could also increase retail clinic demand.”
Inspite of the concerns that some may have about private investment possibly cutting costs to boost its bottom line, urgent care clinics must offer remedies to medical issues otherwise the buyer goes elsewhere to obtain proper medical treatment.