Trend: Urgent care center growth exploding

Retail clinics may be the sexiest sector in outpatient care today, but when it comes to growth, it's urgent care centers that are leading the pack. While there are about 1,000 retail clinics in operation in the U.S. today, there are approximately 8,000 urgent care centers, according to the Urgent Care Association of America. According to the group's estimates, at least 1,200 of those are hospital-owned, while others are run by chains like Concentra Urgent Care, with 324 centers in 40 states. 

Growth continues despite the fact that it's not easy to make a profit on urgent care. While hospitals are usually content to break even on such clinics, given that they feed patients to their inpatient facilities, independent entrepreneurs don't have that luxury. To make a profit, however, clinics usually need to achieve high volume, according to Bill Wenmark, president of the National Association for Ambulatory Care. That being said, many independent physician-entrepreneurs are willing to put in the work to make the centers a success. Many of these physicians prefer having their own business--and setting their own hours--to the stress of working, say, in an ED or traditional primary care practice.

To learn more about this trend:
- read this Atlanta Journal-Constitution piece

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