Mercy announced Wednesday (Jan. 3) plans to partner with one of the nation’s largest provider of urgent care clinics — GoHealth — to open 30 new urgent care centers across the Midwest over the next two years. Northwest Arkansas is one of the markets targeted for the new clinics along with St. Louis, Springfield and Oklahoma City.
Fort Smith is not in the planned area for the convenient care clinics, according to Mercy spokeswoman Jennifer Cook.
She said the partnership is a joint venture between the two health providers and the physicians and advanced practitioners will be employees of Mercy Clinic. Other staff will provided by GoHealth. Cook said it’s too early to say how many clinics will be located in the various regions and the locations have also not been made public.
Mercy said the first of the clinics will open this summer combining GoHealth Urgent Care’s experience with Mercy’s acute care and ambulatory health services. This partnership will create the nation’s five largest urgent care ventures.
Each Mercy-GoHealth Urgent Care center will operate seven days a week with extended evening hours, welcome walk-in patients and offering online pre-registration and check-in to ensure that patients can access providers as quickly as possible and control when and where they are seen.
The 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 (EHR), including the user-friendly MyMercy patient portal. The utilization of an integrated EHR will allow caregivers across the entire Mercy system immediate access to relevant and important patient medical history and information, helping to ensure continuity and the highest levels of care.
“We could not be more excited to partner with Mercy, as our mission to create a culture of care, seamless integration with the broader health care continuum and effortless patient experiences in urgent care is in complete alignment with what Mercy provides to each of its communities,” said Todd Latz, CEO of GoHealth Urgent Care. “Through robust collaboration and the combination of our respective innovative approaches to care, our joint venture will offer a differentiated and superior level of consumer-focused urgent care that is not currently available in Mercy’s markets. We are really looking forward to improving access to clinical care by bringing this new experience to St. Louis, Springfield, Oklahoma City, Northwest Arkansas and beyond.”
St. Louis-based Mercy operates 44 acute care and specialty hospitals including in Northwest Arkansas and Fort Smith. In Northwest Arkansas Mercy is also in the midst of a $247 million expansion plan with a major hospital addition underway in Rogers with completion expected next year. Seven new Mercy clinics are also part of that expansion plan, two of those have already opened, and three others are under construction in Bentonville and Springdale.
Mercy Clinic President Dr. Steve Goss recently told Talk Business & Politics Mercy believes in a distributive model to best deliver primary care and the clinics are key to that strategy. This partnership with GoHealth fits the strategy as well.
When asked about the supply of doctors and other advanced healthcare professionals and constraints in recruitment, Goss said Mercy is leaning on nurse practitioners to facilitate its larger clinic strategy. He said about one-third of the primary care providers are nurse practitioners which are a great compliment to the team approach care Mercy uses.
“We also have been fortunate in recruiting doctors to this region, it’s not nearly as hard as it used to be to sell the region. We have doctors who might have grew up here or spent time here in their past now wanting to come back. Nationally, recruitment is a challenge but it’s easier here than it used to be given this region is becoming a healthcare destination,” Goss said.