Hospital operators like Mission Health System in North Carolina and Rush University Medical Center are trying a new approach to draw in patients off the street: offering urgent care at primary care prices. It seems to be working, too, as visits to other urgent care centers are down in the Asheville, NC area since Mission made their move. Mission My Care Now has opened four primary care locations that are open to walk-in patients beyond “normal” business hours, just like an urgent care center. The difference—a big one for patients, surely—is that they bill patients for regular primary care visits. Rush has undertaken a similar initiative in Chicago. While at first glance it may seem like they’re undervaluing their services, in truth they’re using the walk-in space as an entry into the larger healthcare system, where patients will be referred—paying hospital prices—if they have needs that exceed the walk-in center’s level of acuity. Urgent care operators should be mindful of promotions for similar initiatives in their areas.
Hospitals Try ‘Loss Leader’ Approach to Keep Patients Away from Urgent Care