Medical providers are under increasing pressure to deliver high-quality care at lower costs. This is driving innovation and transformation in care delivery models. At the same time, the population is aging and requiring more healthcare services. This combination of factors has led to drastic changes in healthcare real estate needs and development. Healthcare systems, medical providers, and real estate developers must work together closely to assess community needs and plan facilities that support emerging care models. A thorough analysis of population demographics and illness/disease trends in the community is foundational. The analysis should examine trends in chronic illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, and obesity rates to anticipate care demands.
Evaluate access and engagement
An assessment should determine if people in the community are accessing needed healthcare services, or if there are barriers like inadequate insurance coverage, lack of transportation, or too few providers available. Healthcare facilities should be located in areas where they best serve people conveniently. The goal is to facilitate patient engagement and regular utilization of services to achieve better outcomes.
What medical facilities and healthcare services currently exist in the community? What types of facilities are lacking or overcapacity? A comprehensive inventory of hospitals, emergency rooms, clinics, nursing homes, medical offices, and other facilities will uncover gaps and duplication in services. The geographic distribution of facilities is also important to ensure adequate access.
Align with emerging care models
Medical office buildings, clinics, and telehealth technology are becoming larger components of the care continuum. There is a need for real estate planning to be aligned with how healthcare delivery is evolving locally, according to greg appelt toronto. Facilities designed for obsolete care models waste resources. Certain neighborhoods or populations may lack adequate access to healthcare, leading to disparities in outcomes. A needs assessment examines if racial/ethnic minorities, lower income groups, uninsured/underinsured individuals, or other segments are underserved. The goal is to position new facilities and services where they make the biggest impact in improving access and reducing health disparities.
Define requirements for sustainable facilities
Sustainability, energy efficiency, and environmental impact should be key considerations in development. Facilities that are LEED-certified demonstrate environmental responsibility. Energy-efficient building systems lower operating costs. Telehealth capabilities reduce transportation requirements for patients and providers. Walkable, transit-connected sites promote public health through active lifestyles. Green design contributes to the long-term viability of the real estate asset. Gaining input from community members, civic leaders, medical providers, payers, and local health departments provides valuable perspective on needs. Stakeholder engagement in the planning process enables developers to incorporate needs and ideas early on. Transparent communication about plans also smooths the approval process.
Conduct a financial feasibility analysis
Once community healthcare needs are thoroughly evaluated, the financial feasibility of potential development plans must be assessed. Operating budgets, construction costs, financing options, and revenue projections will determine what viably be developed. Nonprofit health systems generally take a long-term perspective focused on community benefit. Private medical real estate developers must achieve profitable returns on investment. Due to the rapid pace of change in healthcare, real estate assets should be designed for flexibility and future adaptation. Hospitals are now smaller and place more emphasis on outpatient facilities and clinics. Buildings should be constructed such that floorplans, technology infrastructure, and purpose are modified over time as clinical practices evolve. Extensible designs accommodate change cost-effectively.