Massachusetts regulators are considering new measures to create a standard licensure for urgent care (UC) centers in the state in an effort to “apply care standards and improve quality of care,” according to the Worcester Business Journal. Officials also want the ability to collect uniform quality-of-care data from all UC operators, noting that last year, only about one-fourth of the centers in the state reported their data to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In recent years, the emergency department use rate has declined slightly in tandem with a rise in the number of UC center rooftops in Massachusetts—from 18 centers in 2010 to 173 centers at the end of 2021. Separately, State House News reported the number of UC visits in the state reached 68,425 in 2023.
Here’s some context: Obviously, urgent cares are licensed through the state before they can open their doors, so there are in fact prevailing quality standards in place. Some of the regulators’ uncertainty around how to apply licensing standards stems from the lack of an official definition on what qualifies as an urgent care center, the news report notes.