Getting Better: How Medical Advancements Are Driving Office Improvement

February 20, 2018

The evolution of medicine through technology and science is undeniable – practices have gone from bloodletting and releasing of evil humors to laser treatments and gene therapy. And yet, with unprecedented developments in anatomy, physiology, pathology, pharmacology and more, many medical practices are struggling to find commercial space that keeps up with the pace of medical innovation and advanced care.

Before we can evaluate the needs of medical office space, we have to consider the next generation of medical treatments and professions. Technology is transforming the field, not only in terms of treatments and instruments, but also the professionals and systems involved in patient care.

For instance, 3D printing is becoming a viable option for a wide range of medical applications. Specialists are finding new ways to generate cells, create implants and build prosthetics, and the square footage required to house printers, related research labs and workspace for a new breed of 3D printing technicians may be a factor in future medical construction.

On the other hand, remote resources may cut down on the space needed for actual people. Hospitals like Mercy Virtual provide medical services that are managed via telehealth-based approaches. While the facility does employ 330 staff members, it has no beds and offers remote care instead. What’s more, some experts in the field predict that the same virtual assistant tech found in Google Home or Amazon Echo products could be used in the future to support the home care needs of seniors or those patients requiring chronic disease management.

Robotics are also becoming more prevalent in healthcare-related work, as automated options are being used to streamline the efforts of skilled professionals. Doctors may soon turn to a processor with voice recognition and artificial intelligence to manage clinical documentation. And compounding pharmacists could oversee robots that have been programmed with patient-specific information to offer precision medicine. Technologies like these don’t simply change space requirements – they place a heavy emphasis on the digital capabilities of a commercial property.

Another consideration in medical office or complex development is security. While many offices are able to cut back on space designated for file storage and switch to digital charts, this change sparks a new need for technological safeguards. Medical record fraud is on the rise, as health data is increasingly valuable. Beyond identity theft, these records can also be used to inform targeted advertising campaigns or enable illegal medical practices such as black market organ transplants. Improved cybersecurity and IT support will be a factor for any medical facility moving forward.

Considering these shifts, developers and commercial real estate professionals will be best served by identifying spaces that blend patient care needs with functional work spaces and equipment allowances for the employees onsite.

The medical office market will continue to improve and diversify, as older office buildings are being remodeled to create new high-tech, cost-efficient properties. A sound location is key, as some re-purposing can become more costly than starting from scratch. In those cases, existing buildings may be demolished to make way for state-of-the-art facilities.

What’s more, many care facilities are moving away from traditional spaces or parks; urgent care centers are popping up on corners across the country. Spaces that once served as banks, video stores or retail outlets may provide the area and flexibility needed to establish a practice and still make room for advancement within the field. Retail centers in particular can offer cost-effectiveness, as upgrades and build-outs are balanced by superior signage, ample parking, foot traffic and neighborhood convenience.

The rate of medical advancements can be difficult to predict, but the need for commercial real estate professionals to plan for them remains. Investors and developers would be wise to capitalize on great locations with the technological and functional necessities that ensure future occupancy and profitability. To learn more about trends that impact the medical office market, contact the professionals at Intelica Commercial Real Estate. We can help you understand and capitalize on industry shifts in a competitive commercial climate.