Telehealth has grown significantly as the coronavirus pandemic forced widespread shelter-in-place orders across the country. This will affect the future of medical offices as consumers have adapted to the new way of accessing primary care.
Increased patient demand due to our country’s aging population will also drive the expansion of telehealth. Although in-person patient care will never disappear, telehealth allows physicians to treat patients while maintaining a safe distance. Medical office buildings are in a position to create safer spaces and incorporate virtual consultations in order to accommodate patients. Through creative space design and construction, adopting telehealth in medical offices will boost online triage care and better support patients remotely.
Accelerating a Transition to Digital Health
During the current health crisis, doctors and medical resources are spread thin. Therefore, hospitals and providers are moving towards virtual options to treat patients. Prior to the coronavirus epidemic telemedicine had between 1 to 3 percent utilization among a broad range of groups. However, in order to maintain social distance, this trend in healthcare treatment is being reversed. A new report from S&P Global states telehealth patient volume increased 3,000-4,000% during the early months of the pandemic. In comparison, virtual care provider Amwell has seen a 350% increase in volume from April of last year.
Constructing Adaptable Spaces
Traditional medical office spaces and layouts are good at supporting patient care as workflow and technology requirements evolve. However, a standard 120 SF exam room can offer considerable opportunity to modify the space for different care uses without structural changes. Strategic decisions in the design and planning phase to implement demountable partitions, adaptable furniture, or mobile carts can support fast changes in medical office space. Integrating state-of-the-art telemedicine technology into portable walls connect patients with physicians located remotely while assistants provide the necessary on-site patient care.
The Increased Use of Telehealth Effects on Real Estate
With patient care from anywhere, telehealth technology will drive the prevalence of micro-hospitals offering tailored care to specific needs. Hospitals and medical real estate will need to adopt these technologies to find operational efficiencies. For medical office buildings, this may mean a shift in focus — however, having flexible spaces with telehealth abilities can keep medical real estate moving forward.
A Retail Comparison
As a comparison, as online retailing became more prominent many believed that virtual shopping would make brick-and-mortar stores obsolete. However, rather than moving entirely online, the retail industry adapted. Bloomberg reports that online retailers are now strategizing for store-front expansion. Why? In spite of online advantages, virtual sales cannot entirely replace the benefits of a physical store. These same patterns may be observed within the healthcare industry. Ultimately, the biggest strength for healthcare providers is access to convenient treatment options.
Consider Hiring Plaza Companies
Plaza Companies has worked alongside our medical office clients for decades as the healthcare industry has seen rapid changes. See the potential of adopting telehealth in office space design before you lease your next space. Our experience in construction and the development of medical office buildings through the years gives us a prime position to help you find the right space for your healthcare practice. Learn more about our development and brokerage services by contacting us today!