Health Care Comes to Patients

It has become easier for consumers to finding a health professional nearby and on short notice – even in the evening or on weekends. Check-ups, minor illnesses and vaccinations can now be handled at supermarkets, pharmacies and other retail outlets, while stand-alone urgent care and outpatient surgery centers are cropping up in neighborhoods where people live and shop. In a nod to the trend, gargantuan hospital systems are opening compact outposts closer to their patients.

“Health care is coming to the patient, rather than the patient traveling to the health care provider. It’s all about ensuring a convenient location and positive experience,” says Paul Wexler, founder of Wexler Healthcare Properties at the Corcoran Group in New York. A 2018 CBRE report found the number of outpatient clinics had increased 51% between 2005 and 2016 to 26,863.

There are many reasons behind the proliferation of medical facilities. Demographics, technology and the Affordable Care Act have created “seismic change,” says Wexler. The two largest demographic groups, the boomers and the millennials, both covet convenience, though their health care needs are vastly different. As a result, he says, hospitals are shifting their focus from building more hospitals to providing care outside their main complex.

Wexler’s group recently leased 68,000 square feet to Manhattan’s Hospital for Special Surgery to build a state-of-the-art ambulatory surgery center and diagnostic center on the opposite side of the city from the hospital’s main site. “This is a great benefit for consumers who do not want to commute to different facilities for health care services,” said Wexler, a real estate professional with 34 years’ experience in the health care real estate sphere.

In the past, a typical doctor’s office was 1,000 to 2,000 square feet; today a standard health care space ranges from 3,000 square feet to more than 8,000 square feet, Wexler notes. These spaces may accommodate primary care, pharmacy, ambulatory surgery and subspecialties in a one-stop experience.

More compact medical equipment, the emergence of virtual care and ACA mandates requiring cost-effective care are further accelerating the migration of services away from hospitals. Consequently, Wexler notes, traditional health care systems and groups are reevaluating their space, either consolidating, selling off or repurposing new properties – a trend that should continue regardless of what happens with the affordable care law.

Top Ten Lists compiles lists of the Top Ten Best Places for a variety of things – health care, college towns, to retire and more – and communities in middle America rank well in many of the lists. A few selections from their recent lists are detailed below.

Health Care
UofIowaHospitalNumber 1 – Residents of Iowa City, IA, spend 17 percent less on health care than the rest of the nation. But it’s residents’ easy access to hospitals, doctors and dentists that earned Iowa City the top ranking on’s list of Top 10 Cities for Affordable Health Care. Health-care costs are kept low here, thanks to competition between 14 area hospitals. The city has a doctor for every 634 residents. If that doesn’t give Iowa City residents something to smile about, the ratio of one dentist for every 532 people sure should.

Number 8 – Lincoln, NE, residents have 30 area hospitals from which to choose – the highest hospital total for a city on the Top 10 Cities for Affordable Health Care. Having all those choices helps keep medical expenses down for residents here, who (on average) spend 12 percent less on health-care costs each year than the rest of the nation. Lincoln’s clean environmental record, cultural offerings and recreational activities make it one of the best places to live in America.

College Towns
Number 1 – You have to wonder how college students in Boulder, CO, find the motivation to get themselves to class. With so many other things to do, from rock climbing, skiing and hiking to sampling microbrews and checking out the latest museum exhibits, it has to be hard to hit the books. But Boulder is a city of innovative thinkers, environmentalists and researchers who work as hard as they play. Home to the University of Colorado and a collection of national laboratories, residents place a high value on the city’s diverse perspectives. Breathtaking natural beauty, a sense of cultural freedom and a highly educated population combine to deliver a wildly creative atmosphere where both students and residents flourish.

Number 6 – Metaphorically, the road to many college journeys goes through Iowa City, IA, which is home to the national offices of the ACT, a standardized test for college admission. While ACT is a major employer, it’s the University of Iowa that drives the local economy and sets the cultural stage. The school oversees a collection of clinics and an acclaimed hospital system, produces city-wide events, and participates in community outreach.

Places to Retire
Number 1 – Highly ranked hospitals, affordably priced housing, and a vast collection of parks and cultural amenities combine to make Cincinnati, OH, the best place to retire. Retirees can find a wealth of activities in the Queen City to keep them inspired, active and engaged. A recent $2.6 billion redevelopment of the downtown gave the city a giant economic boost by attracting businesses and residents back to the city’s urban core. Residents rarely run out of things to do in Cincinnati. The city’s excellent parks system includes 70 neighborhood and five regional parks, 34 nature preserves and the Krohn Conservatory, which features a collection of more than 3,500 plant species inside an art deco building.

Number 9 – Considered the heart of Iowa’s Creative Corridor, Cedar Rapids offers a dynamic atmosphere that provides residents a vibrant arts scene, easy access to pristine outdoor amenities and top-notch health care. Cedar Rapids scored well in our hospital rankings with numerous specialists and hospitals to choose from, and a culture that promotes physical activity and healthy eating. The city ranked 30th on’s list of the Top 100 Best Places to Live.

Summer Festivals
Number 1 – Cowboys, bucking broncos and bulls take over Cheyenne, WY, once a year for Cheyenne Frontier Days, a 10-day summer festival that celebrates the city’s Western heritage and cowboy culture on a grand scale. Just like the first Frontier Day in 1897, a rodeo forms the backbone of this event, drawing thousands of spectators and competitors to what has become the largest outdoor rodeo in the country, known as the “Daddy of ’em All.”

Number 9 – More than 50,000 people visit Papillion, NE annually for Papillion Days, a five-day festival that includes the largest parade in the state, as well as events like a tractor-pull, BBQ competition, pancake breakfast, duathlon, carnival and concerts. Much of the action occurs in the historic downtown area, which is lined with shops and restaurants, while the running and biking duathlon happens at Walnut Creek Lake and Recreation Area. More than 120 floats, bands and performers, representing dozens of organizations, parade through the city on Saturday. Several organizations, including the Papillion Area Historical Society, the local Boy Scouts, schools and the fire department sponsor events, and local musicians, bands, cheer squads and karate schools perform on festival stages.