So many trends in real estate are shaped by the oldest and youngest adult consumers: Baby Boomers and Millennials. Healthcare real estate is no exception.
One trend in healthcare is the mushroom-like profusion of standalone emergency rooms and urgent care clinics. In some areas, it seems they’re on every corner. Besides standalone buildings, the clinics are cropping up in former retail spaces and shopping centers.
Quick-care clinics proliferate for several reasons, both patient- and provider-driven. Boomers and Millennials alike want convenience and accessibility, but for Boomers, the reason may be that they’ve reached the age where they don’t want to travel far for healthcare services or ask others to take them.
Millennials, on the other hand, have been called the “drive-through generation” because they want healthcare delivery to be fast and affordable. To them, a primary care physician is not the first line of defense for minor illness or injury. Instead, compared to older patients, Millennials are more likely to use urgent care clinics and retail clinics.
These types of facilities are more efficient than experiential, so it’s interesting that their growth is happening while, elsewhere, the principles of good design are becoming front and center.
There’s a new class of hospitals that are more hotel-like than institutional, with private rooms and pretty views, natural materials, acoustics for a peaceful and calming atmosphere, gardens, and art installations. Building on the knowledge that reduced stress has been shown to shorten patient stays, the idea is that a pleasant environment can promote healing.
One design trend affecting properties is a shift toward bigger facilities but with fewer beds. Case in point: A new patient tower at an Ohio hospital added 260,000 square feet but only 16 beds. In a trend that holds true across that region and others, adding beds is a secondary concern, after giving patients and their families more space, privacy, and some of the comforts of home.
Investors are tracking healthcare as an area for growth as the senior population 65 and over, whose numbers will balloon over the next decade, drive demand for healthcare services. This, in turn, will sprark investment activity in healthcare real estate including specialized assisted living and memory care facilities.
Looking at other demand drivers, changes in healthcare delivery, accessibility and cost of insurance will affect healthcare real estate. With the current uncertainty around this issue, there’s good reason to ponder what changes are in store. In that climate, healthcare providers have begun to use real estate strategically to reach more patients, improve their comfort and quality of care, and keep costs in check. The needs and behaviors of Millennials and Baby Boomers factor significantly into those strategies.