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Speculation That Big Box Retailers Will Enter Urgent Care Market Highlights Mainstream Appeal

February 9, 2016
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For those of us that have known and experienced the benefits and advantages urgent care clinics offer firsthand, the fact that they can now be found in cities all across the country should come as little surprise. Today, there are over 6,800 urgent care centers in the U.S. that treat an estimated 3 million people every week.

The urgent care movement is more than just a hot temporary trend in healthcare. In fact, retail giants such as Walgreens and CVS may be planning to make serious moves into the market. According to a recent piece by Forbes, these organizations would be particularly natural fits, as they both already operate retail health clinics.

Retail health clinics are similar to urgent care facilities in their availability, but urgent care centers offer much more in terms of services and professional medical personnel. About 65% of urgent care centers have at least one physician on-site at all times, and approximately two-thirds of walk in clinics employ a mix of physicians, nurse practitioners, or physician assistants.

“CVS or Walgreens will attempt to enter the standalone urgent care and primary care spaces in the next 12 to 24 months,” Gordon Maner, managing partner of investment bank Allen Mooney Barnes said in a report he presented to this year’s ConvUrgentCare strategy symposium in Scottsdale, Ariz. last month. “Walmart, Target and other consumer-driven businesses will attempt to increase touch points with customers via immediate and scheduled healthcare services, although they will struggle to find profitability.”

Competition is good for the consumer, but as Maner points out, these big retailers might not make as much money in this market as they might think. At AFC/Doctors Express we pride ourselves in prioritizing care and your well-being over dollar signs. That’s why urgent care facilities shouldn’t consider these mega-corporations a threat, but rather as another option for people in under-served communities.

The one thing this move would highlight is that the urgent care model is here to stay and that it’s an increasingly vital part of our country’s overall healthcare system.