MOB Trends – Improving the Predictability of Building Outcomes

Musculoskeletal Center & Human Performance Training Facility

Major MOB Amenity Upgrades (Atlanta)

 Major MOB Outdoor Cafe Addition (Atlanta) 

Major MOB Gallery (Atlanta)

Freese Johnson was excited to be a part of the recent Interface Healthcare conference in Dallas. Henry Johnson, CSO of Freese Johnson (FJ) hosted a round table and spoke on healthcare trends as it relates to medical office design and construction. As the industry braces for continual change, the emphasis has been to drive cost down wherever possible. FJ is bringing tremendous value to our clients in this space by a complete understanding of the design and engineering components that are “best value” for the particular investment strategy and partnership with healthcare systems.

With more than 18 projects underway in some phase of Design or Build, FJ is improving the predictability of building outcomes for project stakeholders and investors, through Design-Build Delivery. Licensed in 20 plus states and currently working in about 8 states, the buildings underway include hospitals, outpatient clinics, medical office buildings, free standing ERs, ambulatory surgery centers, and urgent care clinics. Notable trends discussed at the conference that FJ is currently seeing in the MOB space include:

  • Retailization of Healthcare: Systems are responding to continuing pressure to find creative ways to handle population health management, and protect market share. The focus has been on cutting costs, while reaching the community and extending their brand recognition. Groups will continue the expansion of their outpatient strategy, building FSED’s, micro-hospitals, urgent care, and ambulatory facilities designed to provide cost effective care closer to where patients live.
  • Patient Experience: With more and more choices for patients, systems and developers are focused on how to bring buildings on-line that stand out, create efficiency of delivery, and make a lasting impression on the “patient experience”. These include provider side and patient side technology advances. Gone are many of the old magazine rack small lobbies, and replaced with co-working inspired work stations, privacy pods, Wi-Fi stations, USB charging areas, check-in kiosks, tablets and more to make the experience more efficient for both the patient and the provider. For larger system MOB’s, co-locating services in one place is a key patient satisfier. Whenever possible larger branded system MOB’s can take advantage of having a more hospitality feel, free of dark small corridors leading to broken up smaller offices and replaced by greeting stations that shepherd the incoming patient through the entire experience from check-in to provider interaction and follow up scheduling.
  • Focus on promoting wellness: Our orthopedic related projects are more focused on a larger cross section of healthy patients, not just college level trending athletes. The new “Human Performance Center” provides a complete offering of patient experience, with wellness options that can cater to both younger athletes and older active adults simply seeking improved range of motion enhancement. The new Hattiesburg Clinic Musculoskeletal Human performance center is an excellent example of the combination of orthopedic services and sports performance training.
  • Have your building work for you, not the other way around. What is your development strategy? One of the key markers of success for your next medical project could be answered with a couple of simple questions that you might ask like: recent experience with this size project, what were the lease rates, targeted returns to investors, how was the building designed for potential future flexibility, how did the project perform for the owners and stakeholders? If your local contractor who just finished the bed tower can’t respond to these questions regarding a 40,000 SF MOB, it’s probably not going to yield the best value for your investors.
  • Development strategies. With a focus on speed to market, our clients are engaged in evaluation of all the market options. This includes cost of internal funds versus developer driven projects and private equity. Use of data analytics in site selection and patient trends has become a huge tool as well in how to locate and where.

As a firm that provides services for investors and healthcare systems, FJ is keenly aware of the reality of the project economics. We encourage project leaders to make your own informed decisions on where you want the dollars of the project to be spent. In the age of healthcare consolidation and cost cutting, the best advice is to take advice from teams willing to risk fees associated with the advice they are giving, not just brochure cover monument builders at your expense.