Just a few months ago, New York walk-in clinic operator CityMD announced it would expand across the Hudson River to New Jersey. Now it's heading to the West Coast, where it will open the first of several Seattle-Tacoma locations next summer.
CityMD said Monday it will partner with CHI Franciscan Health, an eight-hospital, nonprofit health system based in Tacoma, Wash., to open the new facilities. Dr. Nedal Shami, chief strategy officer for CityMD, spearheaded the deal for the company.
The urgent-care chain, which started with a single Upper East Side storefront in 2010, now has 50 locations in the New York City area. The company promotes its ability to address "life's little emergencies"—the need for quick stitches or treatment for a sprained ankle—and has found a niche serving patients averse to the long wait times and hard-to-book appointments at other doctors' offices.
The expansion to Seattle was not necessarily the chain's first choice because of its distance from other locations, said Dr. Richard Park, CityMD's chief executive. But the agreement with CHI Franciscan, a unit of the 102-hospital Catholic Health Initiatives system, will ensure the company can secure contracts with area insurers, a process that could take months without a partner.
"When we go there we are established with contracts with payers instead of having to start de novo, with payer relationships," Park said in an interview.
CityMD, which is preparing to hire a dedicated management team on the West Coast, plans to open five to six offices in the Seattle-Tacoma region next year. That expansion is separate from its already ambitious strategy in the New York City area, where it plans to grow to 80 locations. Two more Manhattan sites, one at East 96th Street and another at East 23rd Street, will open Dec. 21.
As CityMD takes on a new market, Park will need to convince a new set of primary care doctors he isn't trying to steal their business, a criticism the company has faced. CityMD has tried to get more information to patients' other doctors after visits through its software platform, Aftercare. But the system is only able to communicate with health systems and large health practices at this point, not independent doctors, Park said in an earlier interview with Crain's.
"The next stage, through next year, is getting information to the lone wolf," he said
CHI Franciscan plans to use CityMD to supplement its more than 100 primary and specialty-care clinics and eight existing urgent-care clinics, which will remain separate from the East Coast brand.
"By partnering with CityMD, CHI Franciscan Health will be able to expand and enhance our urgent-care services and further provide first-class, patient-centered care in a friendly, accessible setting that area residents deserve," CHI Franciscan Health Chief Executive Ketul Patel said in a statement. Patel was familiar with the company from his previous role as executive vice president and chief strategy and operations officer at Hackensack University Health Network, which formed a partnership with CityMD in September.
Park said CityMD will need to devote significant resources to the Washington expansion, making it unlikely it will add additional states to its footprint in 2016.
"This is a big step for us, and it's going to take a lot of energy," he said.