GoHealth Urgent Care, Atlanta, and Dignity Health, San Francisco, have entered into a joint venture to open several urgent care centers in the San Francisco Bay Area reflecting the ongoing trend of providers making convenient and lower-cost health care available to patients.

"Our partnership with GoHealth will provide more options to Bay Area residents for fast and convenient care in a lower-cost setting," says Todd Strumwasser, Dignity Health's senior vice president of operations for the Bay Area.

"These urgent care centers will be staffed with Dignity Health clinicians so that we can meet consumers where they are and provide the high-quality care that we are known to deliver," he says. Staff will include physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners.

In the first phase of the rollout, Dignity Health and GoHealth Urgent Care will open 12 urgent care centers in the Bay Area over the next 12 to 15 months. Dignity Health–GoHealth centers will operate seven days a week with extended evening hours and will welcome walk-in patients.

Each center will be furnished with basic laboratory and X-ray equipment to streamline diagnosis and treatment of nonemergency medical conditions.

Additionally, seamless integration with Dignity Health's electronic health record system will offer caregivers and patients a unified medical record.

"Our new urgent care model will provide Bay Area patients with an effortless, technology-enabled experience that is completely integrated into the full continuum of care," says Todd Latz, CEO, GoHealth.

Accessible locations are a primary driver for attracting patients to the centers. The majority of the urgent care centers will be built out within existing neighborhood structures, and near businesses such as grocery stores, health clubs and day care centers, Latz says.

Some urgent care centers may be located within new shopping centers or other consumer-driven locations, and stand-alone facilities could be part of the mix, he says.

Plans call for the centers to be from 2,000 to 2,500 square feet in size, which is smaller than other urgent care models, Latz says, adding that the smaller size allows more flexibility for identifying locations. He notes that despite the overall smaller facility size, exam rooms are 25 to 40 percent larger than average.   

"We look forward to putting our patients' needs first and to developing this market with Dignity Health, a system well-known for its innovative and progressive approach to care delivery," he says.   

Dignity Health, one of the nation's largest health care systems, is a 21-state network with more than 400 care centers, including hospitals, urgent and occupational care, imaging centers, home health and primary care clinics.

GoHealth operates urgent care centers in the New York and Portland, Ore., metropolitan areas, with plans for additional expansion in multiple markets. GoHealth's current partners include Northwell Health (formerly North Shore-LIJ), New York's largest health system, and Legacy Health, the largest nonprofit, locally owned health system in the Portland-Vancouver area.