Many Americans believe that the health care industry will benefit from President Obama’s health care legislation known as the Affordable Care Act. Growth in the area of outpatient medical centers was something that was already expected as the immense baby boomer generation ages. However, the prospect of extending health insurance to an estimated 30 million currently uninsured citizens through the new health care law, known by most as ObamaCare, will likely spur a surge in the need for health care space. Experts believe that the real estate market for the health care industry will reach a feverish pace in the very near future.
ObamaCare is being touted as a way to lower the price of health care but experts are saying that for this to happen, the efficiency of medical office space will have to increase to provide the current level of care at less expense. Due to this concept, some are saying that the need for medical office space with large amounts of square footage will be leased by hospitals and medical groups, which will allow providers to see more patients in a quicker time frame. Some claim that small, independent physician offices will ultimately disappear and be replaced by new and different floor plans and office models than those typically seen in the past.
An increase in transaction volume for health care buildings has already been noted, with some providers aspiring to own their own buildings or to lease new ones. Medical offices are not as costly to purchase and operate as is an in-patient facility, so they are garnering interest from hospital systems and medical groups alike. Experts in the field point out that it costs about $1,000 per square foot to build a hospital as opposed to $200 per square foot to build out a medical office building; not to mention the fact that running a medical office is much cheaper since a hospital must be maintained 24 hours per day.
The trend that appears to be coming into focus is that hospitals are looking to provide more convenient services closer to where people live and work, and are looking for ways to be more cost effective. This trend is increasing the demand for medical office space throughout the country.
Some, however, see the ObamaCare issue in a different light. Their thoughts are that ObamaCare will not create a need for 30 million more people to now require health care services. Instead, they believe, those 30 million people are already receiving health care services through the hospital emergency department system or other alternatives.
“Some believe that patient demands will increase because so many newly insured patients are now going to require services while others say that newly insured patients will simply stop using hospital emergency departments as their primary source for health care, instead using more traditional methods. But, It seems pretty clear that in either scenario, the demand for treatment in outpatient facilities is definitely growing,” said David Hamilton, CEO of Mnet Financial, an outpatient facility and ambulatory surgical center- specific A/R solutions company.
Industry experts are now projecting growth by as much as 30 percent over the course of the next decade, whereas in-patient hospitals should see a slight decline. Regardless of one’s views on the new health care law and its implementation, it seems clear that those working in ambulatory surgery centers and outpatient facilities should be very busy in the foreseeable future and beyond.