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Texas Explores New Breeds of Hospitals and Combinations of Health Services: North Texas Summit Recap

  by Megan Headley | July 09, 2018
Chris Gordon   Kurt Neubek   Jon Sullivan   Doug King  
  Over the last 10-15 years, hospital systems have made defensive moves in communities where they want to gain market share, deploy a new service or serve a growing population, commented Chris Gordon, senior managing director/global healthcare, Newmark Knight Frank, at the recent the North Texas Hospital, Outpatient Facilities and Medical Office Buildings Summit. Those flags “are typically in the form of MOBs,” Gordon added.

But MOBs aren’t the only strategy healthcare systems are exploring. According to reporter Linda Stallard Johnson, during the June Summit in Dallas a team of architects with Page described Texas’ growing trend toward the micro hospital. As community hospitals become “community health hubs,” these flexible micro hospitals feed into a network of campuses, providing a convenient place for patients to do pre-op workups before surgery at the main hospital. Should a flu epidemic or other surge situation strikes, an 8-bed micro hospital can quickly convert to 14 beds to relieve the strain on other facilities, commented Phil Chisholm, associate principal, senior healthcare planner, Page.

There’s no official definition of this new breed of hospital, although they are all fully licensed hospitals. “You can’t always tell by the name — it’s more of a concept,” explained Kurt Neubek, principal/healthcare sector leader, Page. These hospitals typically have eight to 15 beds, and contain basic components such as emergency imaging, a pharmacy and lab. Neubek noted that states differ on Certificates of Need requirements, but Texas’ comparatively looser rules make it a hotbed for micro hospitals.

Meanwhile, integrated health campuses are aiming to provide a continuum from wellness to just short of hospitalization. Texas Health Resources’ three campuses feature facilities that range from 60,000 to 70,000 square feet on about 10 acres and include fitness centers and free-standing emergency departments. “It’s a smaller hospital that we can do pretty much anything with, with the exception of activities that require beds,” explained Jon Sullivan, vice president, real estate operations, Texas Health Resources and Revista Advisory Board.

Even this new campus concept is evolving. The next integrated health campuses may be 150,000 square feet on 15 to 20 acres and include 12 to 24 hospital beds or even 36 beds, Sullivan said.
But what’s changing within the hospital setting is even more dramatic. From the Starbucks in a micro hospital to a variety of concessionaires in large medical complexes, retail and other services are redefining the hospital experience. “Whether you go there as a patient or a visitor or you’re working there, you have to have an environment that kind of distracts you” in an often stressful place, said Randy Edwards, principal, Stantec.

Doug King, principal, Stantec, described this approach as “airport concourse meets hospital.” As King put it, “People need to do things when they’re walking in a place,” especially in the setting of a massive hospital. By adding a pharmacy, food outlets and shops, perhaps even a library or movie theater, these buildings are now looking to marry retail, public space and wayfinding with retail branding.

These changes are not without their challenges. Retailers face “a paradigm shift in who they serve,” King noted, as the customer base is different than the typical store down the street. In addition, he said, adding retail can be painful during the construction phase, with concerns such as meeting interim life safety measures and doing infection control risk assessment and systems design.

But all indications are that the benefits are worth it. Adding retail and services increases creates a relationship with the community, making the hospital a new ambassador for community outreach. Moreover, adding a pharmacy on-site dramatically improves patients’ likelihood of securing prescriptions. “It shortens the distance from a physician making a prescription to a patient picking it up and actually taking it. And it builds brand loyalty between the physician and that particular pharmacy or pharmacy brand,” King said.

To get the full takeaways, click here.