If you are reading this article you are probably an active participant in the on-demand healthcare industry. You probably also think 2017 turned out to be a ho-hum year: no blockbuster urgent care acquisitions like MedExpress; no major hiccups in urgent care patient volume or deal flow; just another year of moderate growth and stability in an industry that seems to be meeting the day-to-day healthcare needs of consumers.
There are a wide range of opinions on whether a hospital-owned urgent care should be profitable. And over the past year it seems we are asked this question with greater and greater frequency. To be honest, the answer to the question is becoming a little less fuzzy. In fact, within five years there will be no debate. The answer will be a definitive “yes.”
Late last month the Wall Street Journal broke the news that CVS and Aetna were in merger talks. The quick take away by many who were quoted on the subject was that this deal is all about Amazon. In other words, CVS was expanding its reach into traditional healthcare not only because more people are ordering health and beauty products online rather than making a trip to the local drug store, but also because Amazon is getting licensed in several states to begin selling prescription drugs.
While researching this article, I came across the following quotes: one from a doctor and one from a patient:
From the doctor: “The inability to control the way we practice medicine and deliver care to patients is the reason that physicians are leaving medicine in record numbers. I can tell you that on an ordinary working day, if I didn’t have a single patient to see, I would still be busy for eight or nine hours doing nothing but paperwork and phone calls that are directly related to managed-care issues.”
From the patient: “I doubt that a single doctor I have seen over the last 10 years would know me if he or she fell over me on the street, including my current ‘primary care physician’ whom I have probably seen six or seven times over the past two years. The feeling I get is that I am just another widget coming down the medical care assembly line.”
For operators of urgent care clinics, keeping up to date with the payer landscape is critical to survival. Not knowing what’s happening with payers right now would be like jumping into the ocean without knowing how to swim.