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.

%22Make plenty of mistakes; just don’t make the big one%22

— 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.

Mistake #1

Wasting Money on Unnecessary Expenses

Mistake #2

Confusing a Good Doctor with a Great Entrepreneur

Mistake #3

Confusing Your Inner Entrepreneur with an Urgent Care Business Person

Mistake #4

Not Looking Beyond Your Hometown

Mistake #5

Selecting a Site Where Adequate Urgent Care Access Already Exists

Mistake #6

Not Considering the Purchase of an Existing Urgent Care

Mistake #7

Picking a Small, Declining Community

Mistake #8

Choosing a Purely Residential Community

Mistake #9

Not Writing a Business Plan

Mistake #10

Blindly Sticking to Your Business Plan

Mistake #11

Underestimating the Finances Required

Mistake #12

Thinking Hospitals or Other Physicians Hold the Keys to Success

Mistake #13

Ignoring Coding

Mistake #14

Ignoring Urgent Care Billing

Mistake #15

Choosing an Inexperienced Person to do Billing

Mistake #16

Using an ED or Primary Care Billing Company

Mistake #17

Mistake #17

Being Cash Only, Not Credentialing

Mistake #18

Thinking Compliance is Not Important

Mistake #19

Referring Basic Procedures to Specialists

Mistake #20

Not Investing in Adequate Practice Management Software

Mistake #21

Overstaffing the Startup

Mistake #22

Ignoring Ancillary Income Sources

Mistake #23

Marketing Without Using Free Press

Mistake #24

Not Marketing Occupational Medicine

Mistake #25

Starting a Second Urgent Care Too Soon