Posted on 12/22/2015

By Lora Mays, Product Marketing Manager

An aging population, technological advances and the Affordable Care Act impact every aspect of our healthcare system, down to the buildings themselves. In recent years, we’ve seen a transformation of medical office buildings in the U.S. as they evolve to meet the changing needs of the population, as well as to take advantage of technology to ensure they are doing more than just housing medical processes.

In an interview with Building Design & Construction, Patrick Fugeman from Delaware’s Christiana Care Health System noted how medical office buildings have changed in recent years, stating:

“It’s an integral part of delivering a continuum of care, whether that’s a private development model or a partnership between a hospital and private practices.”

As part of this shift, medical office buildings have become more retail in nature. This has been driven primarily by the Affordable Care Act, which has required consumers to take on more responsibility for the cost of their healthcare – which makes them act more like retail consumers when they select their healthcare services.

As a result, providers are seeking technology-friendly locations in ground-floor and second-floor urban retail spaces, according to Colliers International’s 2015 Medical Office Outlook Report. The report also states that healthcare providers are looking at suburban shopping centers and mixed-use residential buildings, which is a significant change from about a decade ago.

For hospitals and healthcare networks, this adds complexity to how they manage their assets, facilities and real estate. Lease management has shifted to portfolio management, where organizations are evaluating the entire portfolio of properties – including those that are owned – to determine if they are the best investment for the organization. In addition, the retailization of medical office buildings complicates facility management requirements, often stretching an already too-thin team to manage buildings spread across a city or even a region.

So, what does this mean for the future of medical office buildings? They will still continue to be an integral part of patient care. Unlike malls and other facilities that have been obliterated due to technology, there will still be a need to have in-person medical services.

In fact, as the population ages and health costs continue to rise, healthcare organizations will shift their focus to more preventive measures to improve overall wellness. As a result, there will be an even greater need for medical office buildings to offer these services.

As we see this shift continuing in 2016 and beyond, it will continue to change the way we experience healthcare as consumers, as well as technology providers for the market.

Read our recent blog post discussing other trends that we see hitting the healthcare IT market in 2016.