Outpatient clinics take up residence in shopping malls

Doctor with patient
Outpatient clinics are becoming fixtures in shopping malls. (Getty/Mark Winfrey)

As the healthcare industry shifts its focus away from inpatient to outpatient care, more providers are moving into facilities that are in locations closer to patients—like shopping malls.

The partnerships are considered a win for both healthcare organizations and mall owners, many of whom face more and more vacancies in retail space, reports The Wall Street Journal. Meanwhile, malls are often located near major highways and other transportation, which appeals to providers.

For instance, in Nashville, Tennessee Vanderbilt University Medical Center opened Vanderbilt Health in the One Hundred Oaks mall and has served as an anchor at the mall since 2009. The mall, which was previously close-to-empty, is now 98% occupied, with Vanderbilt Health filling about half of the space. Traffic from the outpatient clinic has spilled over to other stores as patients and medical staff take advantage of the other offerings in the mall.

Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute has also opened a clinic in a former mall located in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. Dana-Farber occupies about half of Life Time Center, which also offers a gym, wellness facility and a reproductive clinic. The location is close enough to be convenient for staff who commute between the clinic and the main Dana-Farber campus, but is a hit with patients as well.

“It is both a satellite location and close enough to our main campus to allow us to look at this as a clinical growth solution for our Yawkey Center that will soon be at capacity,” Wendy Gettleman, vice president of facilities management and real estate, told the publication.

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The rise in outpatient clinics at these locations also is competition for retail health clinics, which are gaining steam across the country.These facilities are considered a good alternative for routine or urgent care. Retail healthcare ventures, like one being piloted by Walmart, are increasingly creeping on the turf of traditional primary care providers, and the expansion of retail health could force PCPs to step up their game in regards to patient satisfaction, especially as the convenience of a retail facility has its drawbacks, namely driving up costs. 

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