Early this year, Partners HealthCare will launch a new venture with MedSpring Urgent Care to open and operate a number of urgent care clinics in eastern Massachusetts over the next five years. The new venture will be known as Partners Urgent Care.

Urgent care centers offer a cost-effective, time-saving alternative for conditions that are not severe enough to require an emergency room visit. Across the U.S., more than half of all emergency room visits are for non-emergency conditions that could be safely treated in an urgent care setting.

“Through our urgent care centers, we can improve community access and offer affordable health care alternatives closer to people’s homes,” said Partners Chief Clinical Officer Gregg Meyer, MD, MSc.

The new urgent care centers will have physicians on-site from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, including Saturdays and Sundays. Patients will be seen on a walk-in basis, or they can schedule advance appointments. The urgent care sites will ultimately link with Partners eCare, facilitating coordination of care between the sites and other physicians involved in a patient’s care. Care at Partners Urgent Care will be covered by all public and commercial insurance plans. Physicians practicing at Partners Urgent Care will be hired and credentialed by the Partners/MedSpring joint venture, meeting the same standards employed by BWH and other Partners hospitals.

Partners operates four urgent care centers in Foxborough, Danvers, Waltham and at MGH in Boston. These and other centers like them provide walk-in, non-emergency outpatient care for a wide range of medical conditions, such as asthma and allergies, flu-like symptoms or abdominal pain, minor trauma, including sprains and lacerations, and other general common conditions. Many urgent care centers also provide lab tests, digital X-rays, vaccines and physicals.