Urgent care centers refine demographics, strategies as they grow

The urgent care clinic model continues to grow and evolve within the healthcare industry as centers refine their strategies by looking at the type of care patients want during visits and where they can open to maximize that traffic, according to MedPageToday.

For example, in the highly competitive St. Louis urgent care market, St. Anthony's Medical Center's four urgent care centers have been able to build a profile of the kind of patients that use their services, the publication noted. The system's urgent care center patient volume is up 10 percent this year so far, in large part because they treat more complex problems than sore throats and broken bones.

Occupational medicine has been the main driver of the volume increase, MedPage Today reports. The 550-bed nonprofit Catholic hospital reorganized its urgent care department as part of an emergency care overhaul last year, creating a new organizational chart and bringing urgent care, occupational medicine, community health and urgent care under the same umbrella. The reorganization has also improved care coordination within St. Anthony's urgent care network. For example, under a new post-reorganization policy, the hospital holds an open bed for 30 minutes for any patient who is treated in one of its urgent care centers but needs to transfer to the emergency department.

"Urgent care allows you to have another healthcare setting in a different location," Beverly Bokovitz, R.N., chief nursing officer at St. Anthony's, told MedPage Today. "If you put yourself in the box of 'You're just an urgent care,' I think that's probably a mistake. The best strategy is to think about what other types of services you can offer if you have multiple locations."

In the Chicago area, urgent care centers seek locations near high-traffic businesses such as restaurants or supermarkets, similar to retail clinics' targeting of mall spaces abandoned by retailers, according to the Chicago Tribune. For example, in the last 10 years, the proportion of clinics in shopping centers have increased more than tenfold, from 2 percent of retail real estate to 40 percent. They are highly desired among leasers for their good credit and steady finances, Jacob Dell, a senior associate at Chicago real estate brokerage CBRE Inc., told the Tribune.  

To learn more:
- read the MedPageToday article
- here's the Tribune article