Report: Doctors Express clinic hopes to become franchise in the U.S.

7/16/2009

TOWSON, Md. As the retail-based clinic model continues to grow and evolve, another player may soon be thrown into the mix — an urgent-care franchise.

Former emergency room physician, Dr. Scott Burger, has spent the last three years treating patients at his Doctors Express center in Towson and now hopes to franchise urgent care in the United States, according to a recent USA Today report.

"In every community, at least one," Burger was quoted as saying, referring to his ultimate goal. "So when people think of where they need to go for their health care needs, the first thing they think is 'Where is the Doctors Express?'"

The first franchise is slated to open July 30 in Temple, Texas. There are roughly two dozen more sold in Texas, Georgia, New Jersey, South Carolina, North Carolina, Colorado and Virginia, the report stated, but there's no schedule yet as far as openings.

The hope is to open 3,000 centers nationwide where patients can be treated without an appointment, in the evening or on weekends when their primary care physician's office is closed. Services at the physician-staffed Doctors Express clinics would be broader than what is currently offered in the retail-based clinic model and would include things like stitches, treatments for broken bones or fractures, as well as drug screenings, pre-employment physicals and vaccinations, USA Today reported. All of the facilities would also have digital X-ray equipment, a lab and a pharmacy to dispense drugs, which other urgent-care centers may not have.

Unlike many other centers, corporate managers who don?t have a medical background can own many Doctors Express franchises, the article stated. They would be guided in everything from what credentials to look for when hiring staff and how to select an ideal location.

Burger teamed up with two partners, his former college roommate Tony Bonacuse and Peter Ross, and together they co-founded Doctors Express in 2005. The Towson center opened a year later. Bonacuse serves as the company's president and Ross is CEO. Burger is chief medical officer.

According to USA Today, Ross and Bonacuse found franchising success about two years ago with an in-home medical assistance company called Senior Helpers. It then became clear that there was potential in doing something similar with Doctors Express.

With a price tag of roughly $500,000 to get up and running, a franchised facility would be a cross between a private physician?s office and a medical center with four to six rooms and an on-duty physician, X-ray technician, a nurse or medical assistance and a receptionist, USA Today reported.

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