All Articles

Starting My Own Urgent Care

Establishing An Urgent Care Business

There is a neighborhood here in Portland that has a surprisingly low number of clinics. I google-mapped it and there are perhaps 2 clinics, both with only primary care services, open from 8a-5p.

This presents a great business opportunity for an urgent care. The population in this neighborhood isn’t very wealthy but an urgent care doesn’t need to charge a lot to make a decent income.

Some urgent cares do it all, x-rays, stat labs and casting. However, an urgent care can farm out a lot of its ancillary services. Labs will come and pick up samples drawn in your clinic and there are mobile imaging units or imaging center to which patients can be referred.

The reason I’m giving this some thought is because I am the entrepreneurial sort. Of course this doesn’t mean much, just that I enjoy working and thinking independently. Success of a business is in the eye of the beholder, wither measured quantitatively or qualitatively.

In my opinion an urgent care is effective and successful if it can decrease prescription of unnecessary meds, avoid imaging and empower patients. Frankly, I don’t know of any urgent cares that practice that kind of business model. Most urgent cares make their money through procedures, injection and creating unnecessary follow-up.

Scenario #1: 42-year-old woman with cough and mild SOB presents without any significant past medical history and is worried about a PNA. Vitals are unremarkable. Exam reveals diffuse coarse breath sounds with no crackles. Clinically this is a viral bronchitis and patient can be safely discharged without any meds with only some return precautions.

Scenario #2: Exact same patient above. Patient could be sent for imaging or ‘clinically’ diagnosed as having bacterial bronchitis or PNA. Patient could be given an injection of rocephin IM, a breathing treatment along with a course of Azithromycin. The abx would be sold to the patient directly from the clinic and patient would be told that she needs to come back for follow-up in 2 days.

I’ve done the math and with the volumes the average urgent care gets one could make a solid income without having any imaging or lab services on-site. The hours would have to be a bit longer at first to build the clientele and then adjust based on demand. A doctor who is deep in debt with an expensive lifestyle would naturally need a lot more income to consider this business ‘profitable’. But someone like myself who can live on $2,000-3,000/mo would consider $80,000-90,000 of annual profit to be a huge success.

I like forming business plans for various ideas that I have. This one has been a pet project of mine for some time. The time commitment is the only thing that is keeping me from going ahead with it. With only 1,200 days left until retirement I am not sure if I want to take on such a gamble. I am not letting it go yet though, I may want to pursue this idea as I get closer to retirement.


Do you have any business ideas that you have been tinkering with?

What is keeping you from pursuing that idea?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.