Urgent Care: Why It’s a Good Business and How to Design the Clinic


When it comes to aging, there’s good and bad news. The average lifespan of Americans is almost 80 years old. Back in the 1960s, most lived until 70 years.

The bad news is longevity can also place a major burden on the healthcare system. In 2017 alone, healthcare spending accounted for over 15% of the country’s gross domestic product. That’s equivalent to $3.5 trillion, according to the Committee for Responsible Federal Budget.

Aging raises the risks of eventually developing chronic diseases. It is also a major risk factor for life-threatening falls and fractures and the consumption of many medications.

Simply put, the healthcare industry needs help, and urgent care opportunities are one of the best options.

What Is Urgent Care?

Urgent care is a walk-in healthcare facility that offers ambulatory services for conditions that are not life-threatening and demand a quick resolution. It means waiting for another day can place the patient in a delicate situation.

One can also liken it to an in-between facility for primary and emergency care. In primary care, the clinics contain rooms for physicians who report on regular schedules. Appointments are extremely common.

Urgent care, though, is also not an emergency department. A significant part of a hospital, ERs best treat patients with critical health issues, such as a heart attack, stroke, or brain injury.

The demand for urgent care is likely to fly through the roof in the coming years. In a Consumer Reports data, the number of such facilities rose to over 8,000 in 2018 from fewer than 6,500 four years ago. At least 500 more will open in the coming months.

Many patients and healthcare providers see the benefits of urgent care:

  • Urgent care costs are usually way cheaper than those in the ER. The difference can be as much as 10 times. ER is more expensive because of the value of resources the facility has to allocate in every case.
  • An urgent care facility is also more convenient. Some already operate 24/7, so patients can drop by anytime. They are less crowded than the ER, yet they might have at least the essential tools for diagnostics and treatment. They might even be capable of performing common and minor surgeries.
  • They can also be more accessible. A growing number of urgent care facilities are now in shopping centers, suburbs, and rural regions. Thus, healthcare is now much closer to underserved markets.

Designing an Urgent Care Facility

Based on the information above, an American who wishes to earn money from healthcare can consider opening an urgent care facility. In fact, they can opt for a franchise.

In this setup, the system is already in place. The management can also teach the new business owner how to become an urgent care manager or an administrator. They don’t have to be a physician or a healthcare provider to run one. Moreover, they can already help in locating and designing the space.

For those who want to start from scratch or like to have a general idea of how this walk-in clinic should look and feel, here are some considerations:

1. The room’s size depends on the purpose and the number of people and objects it contains. For example, a typical doctor’s clinic measures 9 feet by 9 feet. Meanwhile, a radiology unit should be no smaller than 18 square meters.

The clinic should also comply with the standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), among others. The space should be easy, convenient, and safe to navigate for everyone.

2. Create a space that promotes efficiency and a better customer experience. When thinking about the space, consider the urgent care flow of taking care of patients. Where do they go first, and who are the people they see? After they filled out the forms, where should they wait?

It can benefit the patient better if they spend less time walking to and fro when they’re in the facility. Another way to enhance efficiency and customer experience is to add clear signs and markings for the different rooms.

3. Make the clinic comfortable and relaxing. Most patients in urgent care deal with high stress levels, and some waiting time doesn’t help. The facility can help improve their feeling of relaxation by using the right types of light. They can also play soft music that doesn’t overpower essential doctor-patient conversations.

4. Think about the patients’ needs. Children, for instance, need lower tables and chairs. There must be enough space for wheelchairs in the lounge.

With its ability to decongest ER and provide a more cost-effective alternative to patients, urgent care can contribute greatly to healthcare. This also makes it a lucrative business to get into. But an effective system or process is just half of the equation. The other includes a well-designed facility.

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