Urgent Care 24/7 opened its first location here on March 1 at 1726 E. Seventh St. It offers a range of services, including flu care, wound care, ultrasounds, lab testing, shots and physical exams. Patients do not need an appointment.
Dr. Jerry Williams, a neurologist, founded Urgent Care 24/7 in 2011 in Savannah, Georgia. There are now 11 walk-in clinics nationwide. The health-care company offers a fee-for-service option that eliminates the 30% in overhead/administrative costs in health care today. It then passes along those savings to the patient.
Williams was motivated to start Urgent Care 24/7 as he watched other urgent-care facilities being poorly operated.
"Hospitals are good at running hospitals, but they're not necessarily good at running outpatient facilities. It was a need in society that wasn't being filled, in my mind, efficiently or effectively," Williams said. "We actually were founded in 760 square feet with two exam rooms at the beach in Savannah, and now we're in five states, three time zones and growing."
A key part of Urgent Care 24/7's strategy is cutting costs associated with insurance. Patients can still file claims if they choose. They can also enroll in a primary health-care plan.
Williams said patients have fallen for "the big lie" saying primary and simple urgent-care matters should be covered by insurance. Many patients in the U.S. never reach their deductible in a year. That means they are paying into a system but not seeing benefits. He said insurance would be more beneficial if reserved for major, high-cost medical needs.
Urgent Care 24/7 can afford to see patients at all hours and at a lower cost because there is no battle to secure reimbursements, Williams said.
"It's an unnecessary expense that is really helping drive the overwhelming cost of health care in the United States," he said. "If we expected out of auto insurance, for example, what we expect out of our health insurance, your wiper blades, your blinker lights, your tire rotations, would be covered under your auto insurance, and if that were the case, none of us could afford to drive our vehicles because car insurance would be so expensive."
Having urgent care available 24 hours a day also redirects patients from emergency rooms when there is nowhere else to go, Williams said. The level of care should not be determined by the time of day, he said.
Urgent Care 24/7 chose Charlotte as part of a larger expansion into the nation's top 25 metros. Williams noted the overwhelming demand for telehealth in North Carolina during the pandemic. He already had ties to the state, completing internships in Winston-Salem and Greensboro in the 1990s as well as a fellowship program at UNC Chapel Hill.
Urgent Care 24/7 is affiliated with Dental Care 24/7, a similar concept focusing on urgent dental matters. The team is working to add dental care to the Charlotte clinic next month. It will be the eighth Dental Care 24/7 office.
Williams said urgent and dental care often overlap, as some patients neglect their health in both aspects.
Moving ahead, Urgent Care 24/7 is expanding into San Antonio, Texas, and Columbus, Ohio. It is eyeing more location opportunities in Texas, such as Houston and Austin, and also assessing Ann Arbor, Michigan.