Customers are demanding more convenient healthcare solutions, where healthcare comes to them, not the other way around. The expected entry of major non-traditional players (including Amazon, Walmart, and Best Buy) will only accelerate these trends. We take a look at how healthcare organizations are responding to these changing marketplace trends.
The Market Demand for Healthcare is both Growing and Changing.
The demand for healthcare services is going one direction — up.
What’s behind the increased demand? In a word: aging Babyboomers. Every day, 10,000 Americans turn 65, and, according to a recent Transwestern report, the 65 and older population rate is now growing 14 times faster than those 64 and younger. (By 2020, 17% of the US population will be 65 or over.)
With aging comes greater use of healthcare services: demand grew by 5.2% in 2019.
This demand is posing a severe challenge for the healthcare community. According to the Transwestern report, we’ll need to add more than 150,000 healthcare providers in the next two years. That means we’ll need between 150.5 million to 225.8 million square feet of new, dedicated medical office space to house these new providers.
But ‘where’ is the question — and traditional hospitals may not be the answer. In recent years, there has been tremendous growth in outpatient facilities, standalone Urgent Care, ER, and micro-hospitals, as well as so-called “Doc-in-a-Box” clinics inside large retail stores and pharmacies.
Here They Come: The Entry of Non-Traditional Healthcare Players
Changes in the $4 trillion healthcare market have not gone unnoticed by the likes of industry giants such as Amazon, Walmart, and Bestbuy.
Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase have formed a consortium to provide consumers with less expensive healthcare alternatives.
Building on its recent acquisition of online pharmacy PillPack, Amazon has introduced its first Amazon Care clinic for its employees in Seattle. It features telehealth chat and video doctor visits, at-home doctor visits (if required), and at-home delivery of prescription medications.
Walmart intends to grow its existing store-based healthcare clinics to provide more services (including mental health counseling); the first of these new Walmart Health clinics are now being test-marketed in Georgia.
Best Buy is also investing heavily in tech products and services for the health industry. While their exact plans for offering healthcare services are still unknown, BestBuy is expected to lean heavily on their customer service experience, convenient locations, and technology prowess.
How Should Traditional Healthcare Organizations Respond to These Challenges?
Let’s take a look at how healthcare facilities are responding.
Response One: Get Closer to Healthcare Consumers by Converting Closed Retail Spaces into Healthcare Facilities
The retail apocalypse may have a silver lining for healthcare organizations. As traditional retailers close their physical locations (as consumers gravitate to online shopping), they are vacating some very prime real estate locations.
More and more healthcare organizations that are looking to get ‘closer’ to their customers are converting these properties into decentralized, neighborhood-based healthcare storefronts, including outpatient clinics, diagnostics labs, sports medicine, physical therapy clinics, women’s clinics, dental offices, med spas, and more.
Importantly, many of these converted facilities are following some of the latest trends in healthcare facility design, including:
Trend 1. Flexible, Adaptable Spaces Designed to be More Sustainable
The use of demountable partitions and modular furniture is on the rise in these new clinics. These modular panels provide an open, modern feel; they can also be installed quickly — and moved around easily as demand changes. Mobile carts can also provide flexibility when seeing patients. Modularity and mobility are especially important in leased retail properties, as healthcare organizations tinker which service lines offer the best return in a given neighborhood.
When it’s time to make changes, modular furniture and demountable partitions can be reconfigured easily, even moved to new locations as needed.
Trend 2. Increased Ergonomics and Sense of Patient Well-Being
Patients and healthcare workers prefer a physical environment that is “light and airy”— it helps calm patients and reduces anxiety during long wait times in the lobby or the “cold waits” when patients are alone in the exam room. Lower walls and increased sightlines can also help promote interactivity between patients and healthcare staff, to promote a greater sense of well-being.
Ergonomics are an equally important consideration.
Sit-to-Stand desks with power height control can help staff change their seating positions throughout the day for increased comfort and reduced incidence of backaches.
And because of an overall increase in the number of obese patients, facilities need to ensure that their patient chairs and beds can accommodate patients up to 750 pounds. More space is also required to allow personnel to help move these patients through the facility.
Response 2: Leverage the Shopping Mall Model by Creating Healthcare ‘Villages’
Sometimes, converting an individual retail storefront into a healthcare facility isn’t enough to meet the increased demand.
In this case, why not convert some large retail environments — from individual department stores, supermarkets, or entire shopping malls — into healthcare “villages” that offer “one-stop-shopping” convenience?
The trend is fully underway, from a conversion of a former New Jersey grocery store into a cancer center, to the construction of a 60-acre “wellness village” outside of Dallas, to a medieval-themed “Alzheimer’s’ Village” in France.
These larger facilities are incorporating additional trends in healthcare facility design, including:
Trend 3. Residential and Hospitality Inspired Designs
Following a trend that we first detected several years ago in office design, healthcare facilities are incorporating design cues that are inspired by hospitality design, such as open, welcoming lobbies with comfortable, smart-looking furnishings worthy of a resort hotel, as well as influences from residential design, such as comfy couches and traditional lamps and lampshades. These design elements not only make a more welcoming environment for healthcare patients, they can also help foster collaboration among healthcare providers and researchers.
Facilities are also becoming more family-friendly by offering onsite amenities for entertaining children. Some larger, family-oriented exam rooms are being added to provide space for more than just the patient and the healthcare provider. Patient hospital rooms are also growing in size — with “sleepover” facilities so that family members can stay with loved ones during longer patient stays.
Trend 4. Reducing Recurrent Hospital Visits by Reducing Infections
CMS is ramping up pressure on hospital administrators to reduce the number of recurring hospital visits, often due to HAIs (Healthcare-Associated Infections) that patients acquire during their stay.
This pressure is influencing furniture design choices. Easy cleanability is critical, so we are seeing an uptake in demand for solid benches and other seating solutions that can be cleaned easily with powerful anti-microbial agents. Specific material choices for furniture upholstery and material design are also undergoing increased scrutiny as well, to identify healthier, more sustainable choices.
Furniture design choices can also help, by eliminating hard-to-clean crevices and cracks where bacteria and virus pathogens can lurk. That’s why you will see healthcare facilities increasingly specify furniture with open arms and backs (to avoid seams and crevices) as well as contamination-focused design details, such as enclosed casters.
Formaspace is Your Healthcare Facility Partner
Looking for a new way to build out your healthcare facilities? Formaspace can help. We offer practical, modular furniture solutions for your healthcare facilities, from primary care offices, hospital environments, and outpatient clinics– to diagnostic labs, pharmaceutical handling facilities, and more.
Turn to Formaspace for
- Modular Laboratory Furniture, including wet, dry/tech labs, and fume hoods
- Traditional Casework Laboratory Furniture, including wet, dry, tech labs, and fume hoods.
- Mobile medical workstations
- Mobile diagnostics stations
- Standing care stations
- Medical carts
- Pharmacy dispensing carts
All our furniture solutions are built here at our factory headquarters in Austin, Texas, and we work with private and government-funded healthcare organizations across the country.
Take the next step. Contact your Formaspace Design Consultant today to find out how we can build the custom solutions that will make your facility a safer, more efficient and more pleasant place to work.