More on Strategic Planning

Tenet launches urgent care clinics

Its nationwide MedPost Urgent Care gets the healthcare services company into a market increasingly popular with consumers

In a move to diversify its business, Tenet Healthcare has expanded into urgent care, launching last month its national brand of 23 urgent care centers called MedPost Urgent Care.

"The move to grow our urgent care business, along with our entire portfolio of outpatient facilities, is part of Tenet's broader corporate strategy to offer more services to patients and to expand into faster-growing, less capital intensive, higher-margin businesses," said Kyle Burtnett, senior vice president of Tenet's Outpatient Division.

[See also: Innovating for revenue]

With the launch of MedPost Urgent Care, said Burtnett, Tenet is joining a national growing network of walk-in urgent care facilities that are open seven days a week with extended hours.

"MedPost Urgent Care centers provide immediate, low-cost, high-quality access to care. We believe that they're a great alternative to an emergency department for patients with less serious conditions," said Burtnett.

Tenet opened 23 MedPost Urgent Care centers in Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee and Texas. Plans are to double the number of centers by the end of 2014, according to Burtnett. MedPost Urgent Care centers are among Tenet's 190 outpatient facilities, which include diagnostic imaging centers, ambulatory surgery centers and freestanding emergency departments.

MedPost Urgent Care centers are staffed by physician specialists in primary care, internal medicine and emergency medicine, as well as nurse practitioners and other health professionals. The facilities are equipped with imaging and laboratory services, according to a Tenet press release. Patient information will be forwarded to a patient's primary care physician to maintain continuation of care.

The urgent care model is a benefit to both healthcare businesses like Tenet and patients, said Victor Arnold, managing director of healthcare consulting firm, Huron Consulting Group.

"There's a notion that you want to provide the right level of service in the right setting at the right time," Arnold said. "Urgent care clinics fit into that role."

Patients can get good care at lower costs and healthcare facilities can staff the centers more inexpensively than they can emergency departments, he said.