Across the U.S., an estimated 3million patients visit these centers each week, according to the Urgent Care Association of America, a trade group based in Chicago. To meet demand, the number of facilities has increased from 8,000 in 2008 to more than 9,200 this year, the association said. About 600 urgent centers opened this year.
Fueling that rise are two longstanding trends — crowded emergency rooms and a lack of primary care doctors. Urgent care operators say another factor is helping to propel business: the drive to lower costs.