HCA buys Florida's largest urgent care network; physician-staffed outpatient sector heats up

Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA Healthcare wrapped up 2021 by completing its acquisition of MD Now Urgent Care, Florida's largest network of urgent care centers, expanding its reach into the booming outpatient and primary care sectors.

The transaction, announced Jan. 4, adds 59 clinics to HCA's umbrella, which now comprises 170 urgent care clinics across 19 markets. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"The addition of MD Now Urgent Care in Florida enhances our already strong capabilities in a rapidly growing state by providing convenient outpatient care options for our patients," Sam Hazen, HCA Healthcare CEO, said in a Jan. 4 news release. "It also connects MD Now patients to a comprehensive statewide network of care, including acute care and specialty services should they be needed."

The move comes shortly after Walgreens announced a $5.2 billion investment in VillageMD, making it the majority owner of the primary care provider.

The acquisitions will fire up the primary care market as the company plans to accelerate the expansion of physician-staffed outpatient clinics under its "Walgreens Health" business.

Walgreens ended 2021 with about 80 primary care clinics but said its goal is to open at least 600 primary care clinics within its stores in more than 30 U.S. markets by 2025, and 1,000 by 2027. More than half of the proposed clinics will be in urban neighborhoods and rural communities that are medically underserved. 

The multibillion-dollar investment into the primary care, post-acute and home care arenas aims to improve access to care, provide cost-efficient care and "keep people from returning to the system of healthcare," Walgreens Boots Alliance CEO Roz Brewer said at the 2021 Forbes Healthcare Summit on Nov. 10.

The move follows a number of billion-dollar healthcare transactions in the outpatient sector in 2021, including Dallas-based United Surgical Partners International's $1.2 billion acquisition of Towson, Md.-based SurgCenter Development and ownership in 86 of its ASCs.

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