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Vital Signs Spotlight: The Urgent Care Surge

Lorie Damon • 8/7/2019
The number of urgent care centers has increased by 44% in the past five years.  Vital Signs Urgent Care Surge explores the growth and future of this sector.

Vital Signs Urgent Care Surge Report

Urgent care centers provide immediate care, screening and diagnostic services along with walk-in, extended-hour access for acute illness that is beyond the scope or accessibility of the typical primary care practice or clinic. Particularly in rural areas where full-scale hospitals have disproportionately been closing in recent years, UCCs are exploding in popularity. They represent another option in the evolving and diversifying healthcare system, along with other offerings experiencing similar growth such as retail clinics, critical access hospitals and micro-hospitals.


  • The number of urgent care centers has increased by 44% in the past five years, while the number of medical office buildings has increased only 5.2%.
  • Skyrocketing demand for urgent care services is especially noticeable in areas with few primary doctor options and lack of ER’s due to low population counts.
  • While UCCs can be seen as a substitute for a variety of urgent medical needs that would have required an emergency room visit, retail clinics may be better suited to provide preventative care and handle smaller health needs
  • For the future, ability to quickly scale is a key component of any urgent care expansion strategy, and alignment with a major health system historically predicts much higher returns.

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