by Dan Rafter
One-stop shopping has become a trend in the retail world: Shoppers want to be able to find everything they need in just one stop, a way to ease at least part of the stress of their busy lives.
But one-stop shopping isn’t just for retailers. Healthcare providers have embraced the concept, too, and this growing one-stop-shopping trend is keeping real estate companies working in the medical space busy today.
Keith Konkoli, executive vice president for healthcare at Duke Realty, said that not only is activity strong in the healthcare sector, it has actually grown stronger compared to where it was one or two years ago.
That’s impressive, considering how strong the healthcare real estate market back then.
One of the reasons for this? Konkoli points to the Affordable Care Act. There are now more patients who are insured. These people are now more likely to seek out medical care that they otherwise might not have been able to afford, Konkoli said. Combine that with an aging population, and it’s little wonder that developers are building a growing number of medical office buildings, free-standing emergency rooms and hospital expansions.
“The Baby Boomers are turning 65,” Konkoli said. “There are 10,000 people turning 65 every day right now. And it will continue that way for the next 14 years. That is driving more and more healthcare usage. The older you get, the more healthcare services you need.”
As the country gets older, people visit doctors more often and end up in the emergency room more frequently. They also schedule more elective surgeries and submit to more medical testing.
At the same time, health insurance is available to more people today. That, too, has provided a boost to the healthcare real estate market. Hospitals and medical groups need more facilities because they are serving a greater number of patients.
Finally, there is consolidation. Doctors today are combining into larger medical groups. These larger groups are opening new offices in new locations.
But there is another trend driving the expansion of medical office space and free-standing care centers. Konkoli said that many hospital systems are creating what are known as centers of excellence.
A health system might be known for its cardiovascular care, women’s health services or orthopedics. The system will then build a free-standing treatment center focusing on that particular service.
“There are systems that are spending time thinking about what they are the best at and building programs around those types of care models,” Konkoli said.
While it might sound odd, patients are also looking for a type of one-stop shopping when it comes to medical facilities. Konkoli says that today’s patients want to accomplish several goals in one visit.
Patients might want to visit their primary care physician in a free-standing clinic and then, when that visit ends, go to their scheduled ophthalmology appointment in the same facility. They can then visit their cardiologist, and this physician, too, would have an office in the same care center.
“Everything is one place. That’s just more convenient for patients,” Konkoli said. “You are taking off work just one time. It really helps facilitate the care process. That is what we hearing today. The whole idea of getting care being as convenient as possible is key today. Consumers want to go to the place were they can get the best healthcare most conveniently.”