The changing models in healthcare delivery are altering healthcare office space needs. The pace of change is rapid for Direct Care and Telemedicine Physicians, especially in the tech-driven San Francisco Bay Area.
Direct care healthcare models differ significantly from traditional models of behemoth healthcare systems. Most direct care models offer a limited number of memberships to patients, and thus ensure primary medical care on a more personal scale. The ratio can be as low as 300 patients to one doctor (compared to thousands : doctor), with direct access via in-person office visits, video chat and other emerging telemedicine technologies.
This results in reduced need for physical office space. Gone are the large waiting rooms and the need for large reception areas, file storage, copiers, and patient intake areas. Direct care physicians’ offices are lean yet welcoming. Individual patient’s experience is the focus rather than optimizing volume.
This emphasis on the patient also drives the locational considerations for a direct care physician’s office. The location must be accessible, with patients able to pop-in after hours if needed. Traditional medical office buildings are not ideal when office access is via a main lobby, usually closed after 6:00 p.m. weekdays as well as weekends and holidays. Non-traditional locations require confirmation that local zoning laws will permit a medical use.
Key Takeaways for Direct Care medical practices to consider:
- Be flexible on location. It must be accessible and secure evenings and weekends. Confirm local zoning permits medical office use. Location is ideally close to supportive services/vendors, e.g. pharmacy, imaging, emergency room, etc.
- Building must be easily accessible 24/7, with direct, street access ideal. This can include some MOBs, ground floor retail and office – zoning permitting.
- Space will be more compact than traditional healthcare offices, but welcoming and well-appointed. Many physicians create a home-like or spa setting depending upon their practice and personal preferences. Adequate plumbing and power for the practice, and access to high-speed internet are essential.
- Budget will be tight. This healthcare model is focused on optimizing patients’ experience and will generally have a significantly lower patient-to-physician ratio. The physicians are often independent of the large healthcare systems.