In the past 20 years, we (the principle partners in Practice Velocity) have started 16 urgent care centers, and we have spent hundreds of hours in discussions with many physicians on how to start urgent care centers. We have personally made many mistakes in starting our own urgent care centers, and we have tried to learn from each mistake that we have made. Every time we have realized we made a mistake in developing our urgent care centers, we sat down and analyzed why the mistake was made, what the mistake means to the future of our urgent care centers, and how we can make sure we don’t repeat the mistake. Every mistake is an opportunity to learn something more about how to start an urgent care center. In addition, we have observed many startup urgent care centers make mistakes that they have paid for dearly in the following years. With this background, we share our observations of the mistakes that can harm the development of a startup urgent care center.
"Make plenty of mistakes; just don’t make the big one"— Anonymous
We started with a top-ten list, but after ten minutes of brainstorming we already had listed over twenty important mistakes (check back as we add more mistakes on a regular basis) that we have made or have seen other physicians make in starting urgent care centers. These thoughts on how to start an urgent care center are penned from the perspective of entrepreneurial physicians, but many of the principles apply to urgent care centers started by other business partnerships or hospital systems. Please note: these are not “rules” for how to start an urgent care center, but merely general principles to follow in starting urgent care centers. These ideas about the business of starting, developing and establishing urgent care centers are based on our own personal experience and observations. We have seen many a successful startup urgent care center violate one or more of these rules. We suspect, however, that the more mistakes you make, the more likely you are to struggle and lose sleep over the upcoming decade.