How can we improve the health of our communities, while also reducing costs and maintaining high-quality care? And how will we pay for it? These are the most vexing questions facing healthcare executives nationally and in our local communities.
Typically, the real estate in a healthcare system’s footprint represents one of the largest sources of value—and capital investment—for the system. Drive through Orange County today and you’ll see more ambulatory facilities, urgent care centers, retail clinics, micro-hospitals, and freestanding emergency departments (EDs) than even one decade ago.
In a state with more than 420 hospitals, it’s difficult for a healthcare facility to stand out. But here in Orange County, we take great pride in the fact that our local hospitals perform better than the state average in quality ratings. Although the future of healthcare in Orange County looks bright, we will face new challenges and opportunities our healthcare becomes even more distributed and regionalized.
Five trends have emerged to illustrate how healthcare real estate can be used to improve patient care, reduce costs, adapt to shifting reimbursement models and respond to competitive challenges.
- Build in room for change. As more outpatient facilities pop up all over the country, these spaces are becoming more flexible. Forward-looking healthcare providers are building or buying facilities that potentially could be repurposed. After all, today’s freestanding emergency room may need to become an outpatient clinic tomorrow. As demand for services evolves, real estate will need to evolve as well.
- Digging deep to stretch real estate dollars. Growing networks of outpatient facilities have led to large, complex real estate portfolios that generate a high volume of critical data. Using sophisticated insights and analytics tools, healthcare executives are making more informed decisions. They’re consolidating administrative services into low-cost office locations or leasing vacant land parcels to generate revenue until the time is right for new construction or refurbishment.
- Meeting patients where they are with convenient, flexible facilities. Hospitals and health systems are shrinking the number of inpatient beds and thinking like retailers. New distributed footprints include outpatient services located closer to where patients live, in places like supermarkets, drugstores and a growing number of off-campus medical office buildings.
- Leveraging demographics, data and analytics. Smart site selection requires tools like the ones retailers use. Advanced data and insights platforms can visually integrate every data point that matters in a location decision—from real estate market trends and prices to neighborhood and competition from other providers.
- Optimizing facilities management to reduce risk. More locations on the map mean more facility risks, like deferred maintenance. A burst water pipe can quickly escalate beyond a facility concern and lead to a reputational issue for the entire brand. Centralizing facility management can deliver common standards and consistent processes across a health system, reducing risk and ensuring a high-quality patient experience across the board.
Patient convenience, better outcomes and reduced costs are possible if you set a real estate strategy today to deliver the right care in the right places tomorrow. As new revenue sources and efficiencies are explored, healthcare real estate has an increasingly influential role in achieving sustained financial stability and success.
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