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Riding wave of consumerism, Urgent Care market hits $15 billion, Kalorama Information reports

Average urgent care center saw 294 patients weekly, and about 15,300 patients throughout the year, data shows.

Beth Jones Sanborn, Managing Editor

Photo by <a href=""> Dwight Burdette </a>Photo by Dwight Burdette

The urgent care center market is reaping the benefits of consumerism in the healthcare industry, having reached $15 billion with the number of locations and patients rising, according to Kalorama Information.

The healthcare research publisher called UCCs "an established segment of the U.S. healthcare industry." 

Urgent care clinics have ridden a wave of demand fueled by rising health care costs and consumers who want quick appointment scheduling, immediate service and short wait times. They are often open longer hours, after hours and on weekends, unlike many primary care practices. Only 31 percent of primary care practices offer services after hours, Kalorama said.

[Also: Yale New Haven Health, PhysicianOne Urgent Care partner to expand urgent care services]

Additionally, hospital systems are starting urgent care centers to reduce the demand at their emergency departments which are costly to consumers and can be more profitable if they are not treating simple, non-life threatening illnesses.

The number of clinic locations has swelled to more than 10,000 locations in 2017. Kalorama estimates that in 2016 the average urgent care center saw 294 patients weekly, and about 15,300 patients throughout the year, though some of the volume can be attributed to multiple visits from the same patients. Patient volume is expected to grow through 2021 to about 300 patients per week, with revenue per UCC increasing to almost $1.7 million. Kalorama said.

[Also: FastMed opens first Dallas-area clinic as demand for urgent care ramps up]

The financial stats are also compelling. UCC sales swelled from roughly $11.8 billion in 2011 to more than $15 billion in 2017, about 4.1% growth per year. As of the end of 2016, Concentra, U.S. Healthworks, American Family Care and MedExpress were the largest brands as of the end of 2016, but no one brand dominated the market.

Twitter: @BethJSanborn