Chicago’s HSA PrimeCare will break ground March 1 on a new $10 million surgery center in Vernon Hills, Ill. The center, fully leased to Hawthorn Surgical Associates, is an example of a healthcare trend that is only growing stronger.
Hospitals are building more specialty centers off their campuses as patients elect to schedule their surgeries, appointments and tests not at busy and often remote hospitals but at smaller facilities that are located in their own neighborhoods.
“Most people prefer outpatient centers that are convenient to them,” said Jon Boley, vice president of acquisitions and development for HSA PrimeCare. “They prefer that to going to the hospital. So there’s been a real effort by the hospitals to look at patient demand and open centers that are convenient for these patients. They are easy to get into and out of. They are open reasonable hours. It’s just a environment that’s more attuned to what patients today like. It’s simply more convenient.”
And this is a trend that looks like a long-term one. Suzy Cobin, senior vice president with HSA PrimeCare, said that advancements in technology are making it easier for hospitals to offer more procedures off-campus.
At the same time, the electronic medical record has made it easier for doctors in surgical centers, ambulatory care centers and other outpatient facilities to look up the past medical histories of their clients.
Finally, the country’s changing demographics support the move to outpatient facilities.
“More Baby Boomers are in need of more care,” Cobin said. “Hospital systems are grappling with how to serve more patients. These outpatient centers are a convenient way to serve patients that doesn’t bunch up a hospital’s inpatient facilities. A lot of hospitals are at capacity. These off-campus facilities allow hospitals a way to serve more patients, elevate the patient-care experience and capture a greater market share.”
This trend has also led hospitals to form strategic alliances with other healthcare providers as a way to gain market share in a wider geographic area. In New Lennox, Ill., for example, the University of Chicago has partnered with Silver Cross Hospital to run the Comprehensive Cancer Center at Silver Cross Hospital.
“If you could look back 12 years ago, you never would have given a thought to Silver Cross and the University of Chicago forming a partnership,” Cobin said. “But times have changed. I think we’ll see more partnerships like this in the future. It’s an effective way to get highly specialized services that have academic cache’ and clinical care and research cache’ out into the community. It’s great for the community.”
These changes have also changed the operations of those developers that specialize in healthcare real estate.
Boley said that hospitals now that the economy is improving and there are fewer uncertainties surrounding Obamacare are moving ahead with expansion and building plans that they had put on hold.
This could mean more business for developers in this field, Boley said.
“A lot of hospitals are reassessing their real estate needs,” he said. “In the next year or two, we’ll see some hospitals start to implement their long-range plans. We may see some groundbreakings and some new product coming out soon.”