2 companies just combined forces to create a massive chain of medical clinics that are changing the way Americans get healthcare

Spencer Platt/Getty ImagesUrgent care is becoming a big business in the US.
  • FastMed and NextCare, two of the biggest urgent care companies in the US, said on Thursday that they’re meraging.
  • Urgent-care centres have become an increasingly popular way to get healthcare in the US. Big players – from health plans to hospital systems to private-equity investors – all want in on urgent care, which grew by 25% between 2014 and 2017.
  • The growth is coming at a time when the way Americans access healthcare is changing.

Two of the biggest urgent care chains in the US – FastMed and NextCare – are combining forces.

Together, they will have 251 urgent care clinics in 10 states, according to a statement. That would make the company one of the largest urgent-care chains in the US, rivaling industry leader MedExpress, which is owned by UnitedHealth Group.

Urgent care is catching on as Americans increasingly seek convenient ways to get healthcare. According to the Urgent Care Association, the industry’s trade group, there were 8,154 urgent care centres in the US in 2017, up 25% from 2014. Urgent care visits have climbed rapidly, too.

Urgent-care centres don’t require appointments, and can treat everything from a sore throat to a deep cut or minor fracture. The centres are usually staffed by doctors trained in emergency medicine and provide far more types of care than a retail clinic inside a pharmacy.

“They’re definitely popping up everywhere,” Dr. Lisa Bielamowicz, the president of Gist Healthcare, which consults with health systems, told Business Insider. “There’s a huge amount of competition for the convenient-care space.”

Terms of the transaction, in which FastMed is acquiring NextCare, weren’t disclosed, though the companies said they expect the deal to be completed within 60 days. Private equity firms Abry Partners and BlueMountain Capital Management are FastMed’s lead investors.

Read more:
The doctor who founded CityMD and sold it for $US600 million explains how a new kind of medical clinic is changing how Americans get healthcare

There have been other big-ticket deals for urgent care clinics in the past few years.

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