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Mercy Health builds out urgent care footprint with GoHealth pact

The Missouri-based health system will expand with more than 30 new co-branded facilities.

Beth Jones Sanborn, Managing Editor

Credit: GoHealth

Mercy Health announced a new partnership with GoHealth Urgent Care to build 30 co-branded healthcare facilities over the next two years.

Such joint ventures have fueled the rise of urgent care centers across the country, which have found a niche in the healthcare landscape by providing immediate access to care without the onus of navigating the often clogged appointment schedules of physician practices. They also serve as alternatives to the ER for non-emergent issues. Urgent care centers also help bridge gaps in access to services for rural areas, bringing care closer to home.

[Also: Hartford HealthCare-GoHealth Urgent Care partnership opens first Connecticut center]

With the increasing popularity of consumerism, such access is a draw for those who don't want to wait -- particularly as retail and pharmacy giants such as CVS, Walgreens, WalMart, and other offer their own clinics not necessarily hinged to hospitals.

The new Mercy and GoHealth urgent care centers will feature electrostatic "smart glass" procedure rooms, transparent charting on a wide screen in each exam room, mobile x-ray equipment and Mercy's unified electronic health record that will enable immediate updates to patient information and access for caregivers in all Mercy facilities.

[Also: Hartford HealthCare-GoHealth Urgent Care partnership opens first Connecticut center]

Mercy CEO Lynn Britton said the partnership will advance Mercy's ability to deliver "consumer-focused care where patients live, work and play." In other words: outside the hospital's four brick-and-mortar walls.

The joint venture will position GoHealth Urgent Care as one of the nation's five largest urgent care companies, the two said in a statement.

The co-branded care centers will operate daily with extended evening hours and will offer online pre-registration and check-in to diminish wait times, a frequent complaint of healthcare consumers that has enabled the rise of urgent care facilities.

Mercy's system already includes 44 acute care and specialty hospitals with over 40,000 staff, over 700 physician practices and outpatient centers as well  more than 2,000 Mercy Clinic physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has outreach ministries in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

GoHealth Urgent Care has grown their presence continually since 2015, and currently provides care to consumers through 80 urgent care centers through partnerships with health systems including Northwell Health in New York, Legacy Health in the Portland-Vancouver area, Dignity Health, one of the nation's largest healthcare systems headquartered in San Francisco and Hartford HealthCare in Connecticut.

GoHealth Urgent Care CEO Todd Latz said the first co-branded facilities will be in St. Louis, Springfield, Oklahoma City, Northwest Arkansas and beyond.

Twitter: @BethJSanborn
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