As healthcare delivery in the U.S. evolves, so do providers’ real estate needs. Stay caught up on trends affecting both healthcare and commercial real estate here, with NELSON’s new Insights series examining where the interests of healthcare providers, brokers, building owners and landlords intersect with design and planning in today’s market. We’re also taking a close look at this phenomenon in the Southeast, where we now offer expanded resources and expertise in both healthcare and tenant & landlord services.

Top Five Property Features to Accommodate Healthcare Tenants

With healthcare delivery in the U.S. rapidly shifting toward outpatient-centered models, healthcare providers continue to rely more on ambulatory clinics. The commercial real estate industry will have noted this shift in the amount of providers seeking untraditional space in retail storefronts and mall settings over traditional medical office buildings. For healthcare systems, it’s a way to minimize costs, provide more convenience to the patient and accommodate technological advances that have made care delivery more efficient.

But any healthcare provider can attest to the fact that they are not the traditional retail tenant, and retail space does not magically translate to space for medical treatment. In addition to zoning and use considerations, building owners and landlords should be aware of the range of unique space features that healthcare tenants require to provide the best care for patients. By the same token, healthcare providers should be educated on property features that will allow for a smooth transition and avoid costly changes when moving into a new facility.

NELSON’s Southeast region has a long history of assisting building managers, owners and landlords in positioning their properties for a variety of tenants. In Miami, we are now bringing that commercial real estate perspective to our well-established healthcare practice as we continue to expand our service offerings for our healthcare clients in South Florida.

What should healthcare providers look for in a new property, and what should building owners and landlords target for this unique client type? Here we share our top five tips:

1. Parking and transportation access

It is important for a healthcare tenant to have sufficient, and preferably dedicated, parking for their patients. Distance to the front door can also be an issue depending on the provider’s specialty (e.g., orthopedic or rehab care will have patients in crutches; geriatric patients have difficulty walking long distances, etc.) For more urban settings, proximity to public transportation, as well as clear pick-up and drop-off space for taxi and ride sharing services, are key considerations.

2. Location context and adjacencies

Ability to clearly identify the healthcare provider’s identity and brand is extremely important when adjacent to other retail locations and commercial brands. This is especially true for outpatient facilities vs. physician offices. Some tenants may require more prominent locations. Adjacency to related services, such as imaging and labs where the outpatient facility may not provide them in house, provides significant added value for the tenant and convenience for the patient. Coherent wayfinding and ease of access will further support a strong exterior brand identity.

3. Adaptability of space

Space that allows for flexibility in design, has minimal fixed obstructions, readily accessible water and sanitary lines, and is proportioned to minimize long corridors (square is better than rectangular), is ideal for healthcare settings. Healthcare infrastructure, such as water, power and telecom, often responds best to a 30’ x 30’ module, although sanitary systems on such a grid will still incur substantial cost. Understanding the load-bearing capacity of the floor should housing of heavy medical equipment be necessary will be key. Finally, any sustainable design features, including LEED or WELL criteria or certifications, will naturally align with the mission and purpose of healthcare tenants. Providers will capture additional value in passing on the benefits of healthy working environments to doctors and staff.

4. Access to appropriate utilities

Confirm sufficient utility capacity, such as power availability for equipment (e.g. radiographic or procedure machines), or mechanical needs for heat-inducing equipment.

5. Flexible hours of access

Many healthcare tenants require early morning access for procedures or diagnostic testing. Others may require late hours for early evening patient treatments. In multi-tenant buildings, this may translate to necessary adjustments in hours of operation for building systems such as lighting and HVAC, or modifications in security routines and concierge services.

Jose Estevez
Principal, Healthcare Practice
NELSON Worldwide