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Technology poised to alter the healthcare real estate picture, report says

Hospitals will have to adapt to these changing technologies to stay competitive in their respective markets.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

Healthcare delivery is increasingly utilizing new technologies, ranging from specific medical equipment to general telehealth approaches. Technology is changing the healthcare landscape, and it's even affecting real estate, according to a new report from Transwestern and IMEG.

Because technology is changing care delivery methods, the usage of medical buildings themselves are slowly changing. Over time, the experts interviewed in the report predict that medical facilities will be developed at lower-cost sites connected to big data analytics -- focusing on urgent care, wellness and telemedicine centers, electronic consults, remote monitoring and the like.

While the change will be slow, it's already starting to happen, the researchers said. This can be seen, in part, in the increasing prevalence of micro-hospitals, where small neighborhood hospitals offer care tailored to the specific needs of a community. The increasing numbers of these micro-hospitals has been partially attributed to the spread of telehealth, with the growth of one appearing to fuel growth of the other.

It's a big change, and hospitals will have to adapt to these changing technologies to stay competitive in their respective markets, according to the study. Those looking for healthcare real estate opportunities will have to find operational efficiencies on their sites, and design them in ways that are flexible enough to handle technological changes, which will only increase in importance as consumers begin to demand certain amenities and services.

That may mean a lack of centralization. Instead of concentrating care in a single location such as a hospital, the experts predict a "healthcare everywhere" model, which will drive changes in designing spaces, be they retail, acute care, a clinic or the home. Designs for spaces of care are set to change as a result.

Medical office buildings, meanwhile, likely won't disappear, but will instead shift focus, the researchers said. They'll likely be the prime spot for education, preventive care, and outpatient procedures and surgeries, though the reasons for that are due to both technology and the Affordable Care Act. The ACA, the report said, decreased reimbursements for physicians, leading more of them to become employed by hospital systems. It is these systems that are poised to concentrate their services in a medical office building.

When it comes to construction and development of healthcare properties, researchers said new and unique clients, each with their own unique perspectives on care, will be poised to start buying and developing space. That will create disruption -- and in some ways, it's already started.

Twitter: @JELagasse
Email the writer: jeff.lagasse@himssmedia.com

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