Location, Location, Demographics
The retail health clinic and urgent care center market is growing rapidly as consumers prefer to have their physician, urgent care and ambulatory healthcare services closer to where they live. While medical office buildings on or near hospital campuses are still very much in demand, urgent care clinics and freestanding EDs are quickly popping up in fast-growing suburban areas located in shopping centers or freestanding pad sites.
More consumers are using retail clinics and urgent care centers as their first point of entry to the healthcare system and urgent care and ambulatory care facilities are a low-cost alternative to hospitals’ emergency rooms where rapidly escalating overhead costs and long wait times are the norm.
Free-Standing Emergency Departments
One increasingly popular option for hospital systems to improve access to their services is establish free-standing emergency departments not located within their hospital campus in suburban locations. Freestanding emergency departments originally emerged to serve people in rural areas where access to emergency care wasn’t as readily available but the trend now is to provide more convenient access to desirable suburban demographics in an effort to increase market share.
Site Selection…Hitting the Right Target Market
The process of site selection for hospital systems and healthcare providers requires some of the disciplines of retail real estate but also demands a more customized analysis of potential locations to insure the best locations are selected. Traffic counts, competitor locations, healthcare expenditures and income demographics alone are not enough. In today’s era of big data, more sophisticated and project specific demographic data is often available. Real estate service providers must access this information and integrate this data into more sophisticated Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to aide in the site selection process.