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Despite ongoing growth in the number of urgent care centers, many institutions still fail to see the profitable big picture of aligning with urgent care, or of opening locations of their own. A study by the University of Minnesota and Urgent Care Partners (UCP) reveals that healthcare providers are not actively coordinating the growing urgent care primary care channel, or effectively managing downstream referrals. The UCP Urgent Care Survey found that 66% of urgent care patients for whom follow-up is recommended tend to comply with their clinicians’ advice on where to go for further evaluation. However, urgent care providers do not typically refer to specific providers. Patients leave urgent care centers with a recommendation for follow-up 76% of the time; a specific clinician or facility is suggested in only 21% of cases. The study suggests these missed opportunities could add up to $22 billion in revenue, annually. On the flip side, making this case with healthcare systems could only bolster urgent care’s place in the healthcare continuum and increase the likelihood that more patients will also be referred to urgent care when emergency rooms are full or there’s a long wait to see specific providers.

Are Health Systems Missing the Boat on Urgent Care Referrals?