Doctors give new meaning to one-stop shopping

Buy a new pair of shoes and see the doctor--all in the same visit to the local mall. That’s what’s happening in more locations across the country, as ailing malls are offering an opportunity for increased healthcare convenience.

Vacant storefronts in American malls represent a real estate investment opportunity for healthcare providers, reports

As lower-tier malls lose tenants, the companies that own the shopping centers see “synergies between healthcare and retail, where customers require convenience, access and comfort,” says Joe Coradino, CEO, of Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust, which has negotiated leases for multiple healthcare organizations moving into retail spaces. The arrangements benefit all parties, as convenient healthcare expands the range of services available in the mall properties, drawing both existing and new customers into ailing retail centers.

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Garrick Brown, vice president for retail research of the Americas at Cushman & Wakefield, links the trend to a combination of the “adaptive reuse” employed by struggling shopping centers and the healthcare industry’s increasing interest in offering more convenient access to care. Consumer interest in more convenient care options than the healthcare industry has traditionally provided has driven a recent surge in the popularity of retail clinics and other convenience-oriented options, despite worries from traditional providers about the potential for such care to hurt patient-physician relationships.

Brown also points out that the spike in demand caused by the implementation of the Affordable Care Act has pushed healthcare providers to seek new space in order to treat an influx of patients, a particular issue for urgent-care and triage centers for which retail space can provide opportunities for expansion. Additional benefits include ample parking and central locations easily accessible by public transportation, according to the article.

As retail clinics become more prevalent in malls, Keith Jelinek, managing director at Berkeley Research Group, a strategic consultant, expects an influx of complementary wellness-related tenants to follow suit. “We will likely also see an increase in fitness and health facilities, entertainment, and beauty and skin-care solutions such as day spas,” he says.

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