Want to improve patient experience? Start by improving access

New poll reveals location and ease of access are top patient priorities

Patients have always wanted convenient care; now it’s clear just how that impacts their choice of healthcare providers. According to JLL’s new Patient Survey, a resounding 83% of patients prefer a healthcare facility nearby versus a new or renovated facility that’s farther away. And more than half said ease of parking factored into their positive experience, too.

This overwhelming preference for convenience is just one example of how location can directly affect overall patient experience—an area of increasing focus amid evolving consumer behavior, reimbursement changes and the continuing uncertainty of COVID-19. 

As healthcare leaders have become increasingly aware of the importance of real estate in patient experience in recent years, they have been steadily integrating retail locations, minute clinics and virtual care options into their portfolios. Already this increasing diversification is resulting in reduced travel time for patients. According to the JLL poll, nearly three-quarters (72%) of respondents traveled 20 minutes or less to their in-person medical visit.

But patients want even more convenience—a preference that no healthcare organization should ignore.

Six ways to improve location convenience and access 

As you look for ways to improve the patient experience, consider the following location tactics to get closer to healthcare consumers:

  1.  Understand how location impacts the bottom line. First and foremost, it’s vital to recognize the importance of any location decision on both patient care and your organization’s ability to attract skilled medical professionals. Avoid evaluating any location in isolation, but instead as part of a larger ecosystem of care and how it aligns with broader system goals. Each and every location choice can affect brand perception, patient accessibility and acquisition, and the care experience in general

  2. Develop a data-driven location strategy. Claims data, demographics and real estate market data can all provide a strong foundation to build smart expansion strategies—if you have the right technology to bring together and analyze myriad data points from multiple sources. Predictive analytics can aid in making data-driven location decisions and support long-term success. Additionally, geospatial analysis tools can create visuals to identify patient growth pockets or gaps in coverage to determine where development or expansion should occur next.  

  3. Chart a map of prospective locations that will help reduce drive times. As an initial exercise, visualize patient locations and their current drive-times. Then merge demographic data with possible location strategies to formulate scenarios that will help decision-makers understand how various decisions could affect real-world patients. Geographic information system (GIS) technology can allow you to pinpoint locations that together would reduce the average patient travel time to less than 20 minutes. 

  4. Get closer to patients in retail space. Improve patient experience by bringing care to local shopping centers. By tapping into newly available retail space, healthcare organizations can reach more patients closer to where they live—improving patient experience while driving revenue. Be sure to evaluate the likely impact of your presence on adjacent retail—and vice versa. 

  5. Find potential space in minutes with automation technology. It can take months to select, lease and build out new healthcare space. With automation, however, you can shrink the schedule dramatically. Instead of spending hours or days to scout locations in person, take a 3D tour of multiple properties to save time, reduce costs and mitigate risks. Virtual reality can also help you pinpoint amenities and transit stops in relation to spaces under consideration, as well as build 3D space plans to see how different layouts would serve your needs.  

  6. Seize the opportunity to refresh location strategy frequently. Large metropolitan health systems typically have several hundred locations and lease turnover averaging 20% to 25% every year, with a majority of portfolio turnover every four to five years, according to JLL research. This provides healthcare systems the ability to recalibrate their location strategy as they scale, leveraging patient metrics to determine where growth and service delivery should be focused. With the right tools and team, you can make more strategic decisions to identify new revenue opportunities and center location decisions around the patient experience.

Smarter location strategy is a win for patient and provider alike

Healthcare consumers have spoken: Location will play a central role in patient experience and satisfaction as industry leaders work to plot out a post-pandemic future.

By bringing fresh technology and insight to real estate and facility strategy, healthcare organizations can differentiate themselves from the competition, attract their target demographic and increase patient volume.

Watch as Tony Disser, former Chief Clinical Care Officer, Kindred Healthcare, shares his top considerations for improving patient experience.

To learn more about the survey and its takeaways, read 12 real estate and facilities strategies to help improve the patient experience.