The pandemic has affected the healthcare industry drastically, from minor changes in protocols to drastic shifts in how professionals care for their patients. Healthcare real estate has not been excluded from these effects. Current commercial healthcare real estate trends reflect a response to pandemic challenges and changing patient needs and expectations. Below are just a few trends in healthcare real estate right now.
Rising Cost-Per-Patient, Reducing Operating Costs
Every patient comes with some level of cost to a healthcare facility, and several factors are causing those costs to rise. Uninsured patients and concerns about the future of the Affordable Care Act are just a couple of influencing factors. These rising costs are causing many healthcare practices to look for where they can improve efficiency and cut costs, including when it comes to their real estate. Reducing operating costs is becoming one of the key ways practices increase their profit margin, so efficient real estate is preferable.
Increasing Need for Behavioral Health Facilities
There have been various factors leading to an increase in demand for behavioral health facilities, but rising mental health and substance abuse problems as a result of the pandemic have been some of the most prominent. Over half of existing behavioral health organizations expected an increase in demand for services in 2020. Paired with increased awareness and decreased stigma surrounding mental health, the need for services means more psychiatric and behavioral health facilities are actively being built and established.
Telehealth May Lead to Smaller Practices
On the other hand, telehealth has been more widely accepted as offices have tried to reduce the number of patients in their buildings, and patients have tried to minimize contact with others while still getting treatment. While virtual healthcare has declined a little bit as many healthcare facilities get back to relatively normal operations, it may begin to lead to smaller practices with fewer exam rooms as less emergent conditions can be treated with virtual care.
Expanding Non-Traditional Facilities
Finally, primary care providers are beginning to find value in non-traditional facilities. Increases in small clinics built into pharmacies and big-box stores like Wal-Mart are creating convenient spaces for patients. This may be another factor leading to shrinking practice sizes as the number of location options increases for the average patient.