Besides food, healthcare is indispensable, especially in the United States. More people are getting older, and along with aging is the increased risk of developing chronic diseases. The population is also increasing, and the demand for better healthcare is deafening.
How can you fill the gap? You can explore different urgent care opportunities, including franchising. This setup takes you one step ahead of those who have to start from scratch. You can receive the guidance, expertise, knowledge, and experience of those who have been in the industry for decades.
However, for you to thrive here, you must learn the challenges and potential an urgent care business can provide for you.
According to the Urgent Care Association (UCA), the demand for urgent care clinics continues to go up over the last few years. In 2013, at least 6,400 operated in the United States. By 2018, it ballooned to 8,100. By 2019, the group forecast 600 more to open.
What drives its growth?
1. More Affordable Healthcare
The data from Statista revealed that disposable income in the country grew rather slowly. For example, in June 2019, the monthly percentage of change was only 0.04%. Fast-forward to a year after, and it shrank to -1.4% primarily due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Not everyone is insured. The Kaiser Foundation data showed that in 2018 at least 27 million non-elderly people didn't have any insurance coverage. These figures didn't include those who owned one but the policy was insufficient.
Urgent care is easier on the American pockets. It is more affordable than ER by ten times. Further, facilities can operate at a much lesser cost because of lower staffing needs, equipment maintenance, and space lease or purchase.
2. Flexibility and Convenience
Since urgent-care facilities are smaller than hospitals, they are more flexible in terms of design space. According to UCA, about 38% now operate in strip malls or shopping centers. Meanwhile, 9% are within mixed-used buildings.
It also means that urgent-care clinics are more convenient for patients and their families. Not only do they enjoy shorter waiting times, but they also have the option to spend it somewhere else. For example, they can shop while waiting for their turn.
One of the biggest challenges in urgent care is a less-intimate patient-provider relationship. Unlike in hospitals, patients usually cannot choose their physicians as soon as they walk into an urgent care clinic. Thus, although urgent-care facilities are popular, they don't do well in retaining patients.
The competition is also fierce in the industry. A strip mall, for instance, can have two or more clinics. Plus, unlike hospitals, urgent-care facilities do not operate 24/7.
Facilities can address these through clear and targeted branding and marketing. The general message is this: the clinic provides a centralized patient information system that doctors are capable of treating a returning client.
With this strategy, it also suggests that patients need not wait for weeks to see a specialist. A GP in an urgent-care clinic can immediately forward their information to other doctors.
You can also position your clinic as the next best alternative to hospitals and can also function as a specialty center.
Urgent care is a lucrative business for anyone who wants to get into healthcare, but it needs careful planning and strong marketing, among others, to thrive.