By Jon Boley
In many ways, healthcare providers are undergoing a seismic shift parallel to the retail sector. Patients increasingly crave convenience regardless of whether they’re going to the doctor’s office or the grocery store. In some cases, they’re visiting both in a single trip thanks to the ongoing “retailization” of healthcare.
Just like in the retail industry, healthcare providers must continue to adapt to evolving expectations to maintain a competitive advantage. Medical office buildings (MOBs) need these top-three features to be successful in 2019 and beyond:
Main Street Locations
In recent years, the reimbursement model has changed to measure the value of services, not the volume alone. This is a key driver for health systems as they move to off-campus facilities that are closer to the patients they serve.
Research firm Advisory Board found about 20 percent of baby boomers surveyed don’t want to travel too far for care. For Gen Xers, the firm found that travel time is three times more important than doctor quality. They also want to combine errands during the same trip.
That’s why more healthcare providers are selecting retail sites, offering proximity to residential neighborhoods, ample parking and flexible layouts. They also benefit from the built-in foot traffic and signage opportunities.
A good example is the Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Drexel Town Square Health Center in Oak Creek, Wis., just south of Milwaukee. Planned and developed by HSA PrimeCare, the multi-specialty facility is part of the larger 85-acre mixed-use project, Drexel Town Square, which includes a new city hall, public library, shopping, restaurants, service-oriented businesses, hotel, and apartments. The fact that an MOB fits into this modern, master-planned development is a harbinger of what’s to come in healthcare development as providers continue to move closer to the patient.
To provide further efficiencies and convenience to their patients, healthcare providers have begun utilizing the medical home model to provide one-stop shops for care. Drexel Town Square Health Center, for example, offers a vast selection of services under one roof. Patients are directed to shared waiting areas that streamline patient movement and improve convenience while creating efficiency in terms of both design and operations. Dual-access exam rooms and adjacent collaborative work areas facilitate fast, seamless patient visits and improve communication among team members.
Consumers today are taking a 360-degree approach to wellness. They want to incorporate fitness in a seamless way, and medical providers want to tap into that trend as their industry becomes increasingly consumerized and, as a result, competitive.
According to a 2015 Goldman Sachs report, wellness is especially important to millennials; the more health-conscious and tech-savvy ones are using apps and wireless-enabled wearable devices that measure data such as the number of steps walked and stairs climbed, as well as their heart rate and quality of sleep.
Baby boomers and Gen Xers in their early 50s are postponing retirement and are more engaged in leading active lifestyles as they age, so they’re also seeking ways to build wellness into their daily routines, the report found.
This shift has influenced not only how new healthcare developments are designed, but also where they’re built and the site-selection process. For example, Drexel Town Square Health Center was planned near a public walking path so that patients as well as employees can take advantage of it.
A growing number of providers are also allocating square footage to wellness amenities within the footprints of their own developments. These offerings include fitness centers for daily exercise and rehabilitation, community spaces for health and nutritional education and farmers markets to promote healthy eating.
Room to Grow
Recognizing the ever-evolving — and often rapidly evolving — nature of their industry, today’s providers understand that what works for baby boomers, Gen Xers and millennials might not apply to Gen Z. Therefore, it has become more critical than ever to plan flexibility into the design of medical facilities to keep them viable in the future.
Drexel Town Square Health Center has the ability to expand an additional 30,000 square feet on three sides and two floors if demand or scope for medical services increases.
Going forward, as technological advancements continue and potential policy shifts impact where and how services are delivered, providers must expect — and prepare for — the unexpected. Doing so will help them maintain their fiscal health while promoting the physical health of their patients.
Jon Boley is senior vice president of acquisitions and development for HSA PrimeCare, a leading Chicago-based developer and manager of healthcare facilities across the Midwest.