The Dallas chapter of Commercial Real Estate Women hosted a panel discussion yesterday to talk about the fast-evolving healthcare industry and how to take advantages of opportunities. The panelists included Angel Benschneider, senior vice president of Caddis Partners; Kathy de la Vergne, co-founder and president of Prevarian Senior Living; Tina Larsen, vice president of Corgan Associates; Holly Ragan, director healthcare planning and design with UT Southwestern Medical Center; and Maxine Lawyer (moderator), partner-in-charge of medical and healthcare services for Weaver LLP.
Here are some of the updates they shared:
UT Southwestern is planning to open new neighborhood clinical spaces, Ragan said. The first satellite clinic will be a leased space across from UT Dallas in north Richardson. This center will be flexible with shared support areas for multiple specialists, including OB Gyn, Cardiology, and Sports Medicine. In the future, UTSW also has plans for a similar clinical center in Park Cities on Hillcrest near Northwest Highway.
With the William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital slated to open in late 2014, UTSW is planning to use the existing 1.4 million square-foot-space St. Paul site for alternative purposes. Although it isn’t approved, the St. Paul location may be used for ambulatory clinics, academic offices, and educational space.
Regarding changes in the industry, Benschneider recalled “Five to six years ago, when we opened our first post-acute facility, it was hard to find a lender for the project. Now, we have lenders who are following us.”
Medical Office Buildings on the development side have become all about efficiencies in patient care, Benschneider said. “We try to put strong primary care base and surround them with specialists, and it’s to make it convenient and simple for the patient.”
Because of this, she saidm there will always be a need for space: “What you find is that physicians are teaming together. They’re sharing business office, waiting rooms, and other communal spaces to try and lower their fixed costs.”
Larsen said general office buildings are different structures than MOBs. There are quite a few differences; primarily generic spaces have deeper bays, distance between corridor and window, which can make a medical space seem very narrow after it’s converted. Paper files used to be a huge space problem, not as much anymore with EHRs, she said.
Also, passenger elevators can be too small for emergency related visits, but most often it can be made to work.
“We look to evidence based design, which is applied to get best possible outcome for patients, although it is used more often in hospitals than in clinics,” Larsen said. “A lot of that design has to do with stress. Updates such as making things easy to find, having access to natural light, or placing positive distractions such as fish tanks in an office can all help patients feel more at ease.”
De la Vergne said there will be winners and losers following ACA implementation. To make sure you’re on the winning side, she suggests asking tenants not only what their credit and business is like now, but see how the numbers shake out after the ACA is implemented.