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Health Care Goes to the Mall

Health Care Goes to the Mall

by Kim Bellard, June 29, 2017


It's either auspicious or ironic: decades after other retail industries, health care is coming to the mall.

These are not, generally, good days for the malls.  We've all seen strip malls that were never finished or that have simply fallen on hard times, but in recent years those stalwarts of American shopping -- enclosed malls -- are sharing that fate.  Credit Suisse 
says that 20-25% of the 1,100 U.S. malls will close over the next five years.

The Wall Street Journal predicts that "the mall of the future will have no stores."   They cite malls filling empty spaces with churches, schools, even offices or apartments.  E.g., Ford is leasing 240,000 square feet at a suburban Detroit mall for new offices. The New York Times had a similar report on the changes to malls.  As one developer told them, "Dining and entertainment is the new anchor — not Sears, not Macy’s."  


One thing that many agree upon: malls of the future will include: health care.


Another Wall Street Journal article focused specifically on health care moving to malls, and included several examples:

·         Dana-Farber Cancer Institute has leased 140,000 square feet of a 286,000 square foot Boston-area mall, which also has several other health and wellness tenants.

·         The Maury Regional Cancer Center has been in the Columbia Mall (Columbia, TN) since 2012.

·         The Biggs Part Mall in Lumberton NC has Southeastern Regional Medical Center as a key tenant.

·         UCLA Health operates primary care centers in the Village at Westfield Topanga.

·         Vanderbilt Health has been part of the One Hundred Oaks mall in Nashville TN since 2009.


Other examples include Cedar Sinai (The Runway at Playa Vista -- LA) and Prime Healthcare (Plymouth Meeting -- Philadelphia), according to Bloomberg.  


Johns Hopkins Medical President Gill Wylie told Bisnow that he watches retail vacancies for opportunities: "We do urgent care and primary care.  So I'm sitting there thinking, 'Gee if all these Staples end up closing, there might be space out there.'"  They've already snapped up four former Blockbuster locations for urgent care facilities.  


Mr. Wylie said he also pays attention to big department stores and malls, citing their infrastructure, parking, and ADA compliance as givens.  


Fady Barmada, of Array Advisors, led the conversion of New York City McDonald's to an urgent care center, and noted that: "Health systems know that, by co-locating themselves with well-used and well-attended retail facilities, they can increase the visibility of their facilities and become platforms for the creation of unique and interesting programs."


But moving to retail locations won't, in itself, make health care organizations more patient-centered.  To do that, they'll have to make the patient experience easier (if not always enjoyable), give them clear choices, and truly treat them like valued customers.


Moving is easy.  Changing is hard.  

This post is an abridged version of the posting in Kim Bellard’s blogsite. Click here to read the full posting


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