Eventually, you would expect that the urgent care market might slow down. I happened in the retail clinic space and is starting to occur in the telemedicine space -- more on that later. But in 2015 there was no evidence of an urgent care pullback anytime soon. Clinic growth continued as it did in 2014. And perhaps most telling were the acquisitions, both large and small, which also continued.
“A huge underlying factor in many of these recent urgent care transactions is health systems, which are emerging as a top bidder, whereas three years ago they were the lowest bidder,” said Gordon Maner, managing partner at Allen Mooney Barnes and a speaker at this year’s ConvUrgentCare Strategy Symposium. “It clearly shows their interest in population health and coordination of care has skyrocketed,” he continued. “There’s something about the post-Supreme Court decision time frame around Obama Care and the recent CMS readmissions policy where you can sense there is a big spike in health system interest and participation in the walk-in sector.”
But retail clinic growth also continued, as did the energy around worksite and near-site clinics. As we approach the New Year and our next symposium, several themes are becoming clear:
• Traditional methods of primary care medicine are under threat and walk-in operators are a part of that threat.
• Payers are continuing to enter the walk-in space, but with a parallel track of continuing to acquire primary care practices.
• Large health systems appear to be gunning for a bigger piece of the urgent care action on a national basis.
• Local health systems are now routinely looking at joint ventures with independent urgent care operators.
• Retail clinics and telemedicine are struggling to find their identity amid all of this activity.