The Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the aging Baby Boomer population have added millions of patients to the healthcare system, forcing service providers to rethink the traditional model of treatments centered on the hospital campus. Caregivers are meeting the increased need for services by expanding to off-campus locations closer to patients, working from new diagnostic and treatment centers in stand-alone buildings, mixed-use projects and even former malls converted to medical-office use.

Medical Office Building

Visitors to medical office buildings are often ill or infirm, or both. Pay special attention to these problem-prone areas when selecting space to prevent inconveniencing patients visiting the property.
  1. Parking: Designated employee parking to the rear of the building leaves prime spaces available for patients. Comprehensive wayfinding systems including signage, maps, symbols and colors are also helpful for patients, guests and visitors.
  2. Interior signage: Direction signs should be clear and legible. Visitors may have failing or impaired eyesight.
  3. Elevators: Buttons should be easy to read, and all light fixtures working.
  4. Cleanliness: A clean and disinfected building will always smell good. Air fresheners seldom mask odors effectively and may offend some ill patients.
  5. Ambiance: Wall colors and artwork can promote healing. A good ambiance will suggest restfulness, tranquility and wellness.
  6. Landscaping: Overgrown shrubbery or poorly directed irrigation sprinklers can create hazards for patients, particularly for those using canes or walkers.
  7. Exterior surfaces: The parking lot and walkways must be maintained for patient safety. It’s difficult to roll a wheelchair or walker over potholes.
  8. Common area hallways: Carpets and tile should be safely secured to the floor; ceilings, floors and walls should be free of stains or damage, and well-lit.
  9. Restrooms: These should be clean and well-supplied, complete with changing stations. Because visitor traffic to a medical building is three times more than that of a regular office building, a day porter who continually cleans the restrooms is a sign of attentive management.
  10. Attitude: A management team that smiles and is approachable goes a long way to promote healing.

The plethora of new location options has ramped up competition among medical office buildings. Now more than ever, those landlords need management teams that understand caregivers’ needs and serve those needs through property operations that are conducive to patient care.

What should medical office building owners expect from their management teams?

Medical office tenants are in the business of healing. That’s why a caring heart is an essential trait in management services team members at these properties, and why Transwestern emphasizes empathy with patients in its training. The caregiver’s desire to heal and provide care must resonate with building management.

An emotional connection with tenants leads to outstanding service. Our service approach for property managers and engineers – The Transwestern Experience – encourages team members to create memorable experiences at every touchpoint – both with tenants and their patients. We make sure visitors are greeted and directed to the physician’s office or treatment center they seek. We want to convey a sense of warmth and caring that sets the tone for their visit, and provide a facility that is clean, comfortable and easy to navigate.

The other essential element in the smooth operation of a medical office building is strong relationships between the management team, tenants and owner. A desire to be helpful can only go so far unless team members develop a rapport with the people they serve, learning their challenges and gaining insight for supportive management strategies. What do physicians and their office and practice managers require to do their jobs?

Taking it a step further, we’ve found that it’s helpful for management professionals to shadow a physician and/or their practice manager at work. It is difficult to appreciate the complexity and stress that doctors face each day without first-hand observation. With a deeper understanding of how success or failure rests largely on patient satisfaction, team members can better relate to both tenants and medical landlords.

Because patients are at the center of healthcare businesses, we encourage managers to view the property from a patient’s standpoint. In most cases, people visiting a medical office building are unwell, and property operators need to make that visit easier. What would an ailing patient want to see and experience?

While managers are considering others’ needs, they must at the same time think like an owner, working to control expenses and developing strategies to reduce energy consumption and better serve tenants. Rather than leaving marketing concerns to the leasing brokers, managers are encouraged to visit competing properties and know the rental rates, amenities and occupancy levels in the market to gain a clearer picture of what makes their own building stand out.

The owners of medical office buildings want to know that the management team is taking care of the valuable healthcare providers in their building with the same concern that those physicians give to patients. It is our job to keep the building healthy and tenants happy, so they can heal their patients.

Debra Schooler

In her role as national director of healthcare property management services for Transwestern’s Healthcare Advisory Services group, DEBRA SCHOOLER collaborates on healthcare real estate best practices and training across all management services capabilities, including property management, lease administration and facilities management.

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