We’ve reported previously on the opportunity that rural hospital closures and cutbacks could present for urgent care operators to step in and thrive in communities in desperate need of healthcare options. New research out of the Penn State College of Medicine paints a broader picture of the potential impact not just for affected communities and prospective new providers, but for what they term “bystander hospitals”—facilities within a 30 mile radius of one that has closed. The ripple effect will certainly impact urgent care centers within that range as time goes by. Here’s why: Emergency department visits increased by 3.59% at bystander hospitals 2 years before a closure, and jumped 10.22% post closure. As we know, crowded emergency rooms are likely to encourage nonemergent patients to seek care elsewhere—often at the closest urgent care center. Pay attention to what’s happening in the hospital marketplace not just in your community, but within that 30-mile radius. As those bystander hospitals fill up, so may your waiting room.

If Your Business Hasn’t Been Impacted by Rural Hospital Closures, It Most Likely Will
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