How medical malls could become hospitals of the future

Trends in patient expectations and public health needs could make medical malls the hospitals of the near future, according to a Nov. 16 Harvard Business Review report.

Medical malls, which can be integrated into a converted shopping mall, can either be a mix of healthcare services and retail spaces or purely a medical center. These malls often include at least five healthcare tenants, and by that definition there are about 30 nationwide. Approximately three-quarters of these malls are a mix of medical and retail units.

Five insights:

  1. Medical malls have the potential to enable health systems to deliver care more flexibly, address healthcare inequities and lower overhead costs, according to the report. The shift away from traditional hospital buildings is supported by several trends, such as patient expectations around telehealth, the proliferation of ASCs and health technology that enables diagnostic testing outside of hospitals.

  2. Traditional hospitals will still be vital in treating life-threatening illnesses and acute care, but medical malls offer an innovative way to drive revenue, patient populations and growth. Medical malls can decrease costs by sharing services and costs with other tenants, such as an IT center, a telehealth center or a medical supply distributor. If a health system owns the mall, it can also get revenue from nonclinical services by collecting rent from tenants.

  3. More than half of patients said convenient access to care is the No. 1 factor in deciding where they receive care, according to the National Research Corporations' 2019 healthcare consumer trends report. With ample parking and convenient locations, medical malls can offer flexible and convenient care options many patients are looking for — and potentially bridge gaps in inequitable care by bringing care to patients.

  4. Jackson (Miss.) Medical Mall Thad Cochran Center, which partners with the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, has made it part of its mission to eliminate health care disparities. The mall has attracted several multimillion-dollar grants to help fund that goal.

  5. Vanderbilt Health's One Hundred Oaks Mall in Nashville, Tenn., aims to make care convenient by offering free shuttles to transport patients to a nearby children's hospital and a hospital for adults. Outpatient health services at this medical mall account for  half of the mall’s 880,000 square feet. The system also has multiple off-site clinics that work with the mall, which also offers virtual care. 

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