Industry Trends Demand New Approaches To Healthcare Facilities and Real Estate

By Richard Taylor, executive managing director, JLL Healthcare Solutions

Healthcare delivery is being transformed as we speak, from technological breakthroughs and regulatory change to changing patient demographics and consumer expectations. As the healthcare landscape evolves, forward-looking healthcare providers are seeing their real estate in a new light. It’s time for healthcare providers to consider new approaches to real estate and facilities as a way to improve efficiency and patient outcomes.

Following are four ways hospitals and health systems can stay ahead of the curve.

Leverage the M&A boom to improve facilities performance and value. While 2017 seemed to be the year of hospital M&A, JLL analysis points to an even higher volume of M&A in 2018. Cost containment is often a key motivator for initiating M&As. In the aftermath of consolidation, many health systems are now sitting on large portfolios of underutilized real estate that represent a major source of value and capital investment. A data-driven analysis can help identify opportunities to drive more value from each facility and put each to its highest and best use.

Unlock operational efficiencies with a centralized approach. As health systems expand their real estate portfolios with diverse outpatient facilities, centralized facility management and maintenance may be the most efficient way to manage their growing footprints. Partnering with a third-party facility management service provider is a common path to centralization, although it is critical to partner with a firm that understands the nuances of the healthcare environment.

Centralized control of facilities data and analytics provides a complete picture of how different facilities are performing, so the facilities team can make accurate capital plans based on data rather than informed guestimates. Also, today’s facility management technology supports preventive maintenance and can even generate automated alerts if a building system is malfunctioning or approaching a complete breakdown. In addition to improving efficiency, a facilities management partnership can help reduce compliance risks and improve patient and staff satisfaction.

Embrace new definitions of what it means to be a health system—and how that plays out on the map. Though hospitals remain a critical focus, traditional networks may soon be rendered obsolete as industry leaders find that new opportunity lies outside the hospital campus. From medical office buildings to healthcare-anchored retail centers, tailored care settings can improve the patient experience and increase patient loyalty—and boost the hospital balance sheet.

However, managing a complex network of medical facilities requires a thoughtful strategy informed by location analysis. Thinking differently can reap big rewards, but it’s important for executives to carefully weigh the risks and benefits of paying a little more to be closer to where patients already spend time.

Enhance facilities management to reduce hospital-acquired infections (HAIs). One out of every 25 hospital patients acquires at least one HAI, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). The physical environment ranks fourth on its list of HAI causes—a clear signal of room for improvement.

Fortunately, hospitals can take measures to reduce infection risks by improving the design and management of their care environments—from the maintenance of ventilation systems to floor care and the cleanliness of room décor. Smart facility maintenance practices can reduce operating costs over time, support facility accreditation and also improve patient outcomes. For example, having a facility management expert who has worked directly for the Joint Commission would boost both facility accreditation efforts and better protect patient safety.

Now what?

By recognizing real estate as a key lever, healthcare leaders can uncover new opportunities to serve their patient communities more efficiently and effectively. And that could be key to solving an array of challenges in the fast-changing future of healthcare.

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