Microhospital Trend is Gathering Momentum and Could Provide Revenue to Independent Clinical Laboratories
Though they mostly receive medical laboratory services from their parent health networks, microhospitals may, nevertheless, need services from independent clinical laboratories as well
For years, independent clinical laboratories and anatomic pathology groups have been adapting to healthcare networks undergoing changes based on increased demand for convenient, affordable medical services. One such innovation is the growing trend and popularity of microhospitals, which Dark Daily has reported on in multiple e-briefings.
These scaled-down healthcare facilities offer most critical medical services in smaller settings. They fill gaps between traditional hospitals and urgent-care facilities, are intended to be easier for patients to get to, and usually cost less than a typical community hospital of several hundred beds.
Although these microhospitals are typically owned by existing health networks and receive lab services from their parent health networks, for independent clinical laboratories, microhospitals could represent another potential customer in need of rapid test TATs in support of the facility’s emergency department and limited inpatient beds.
One-Stop Shops for Primary and Secondary Care
Microhospitals are typically between 20,000 and 60,000 square feet in size and offer a small number of inpatient short-stay beds—usually less than 15. They are licensed as hospitals and are usually low-trauma (levels 4/5) facilities that tend to focus on low-acuity patients.
Services at microhospitals vary from location to location, but generally include:
- emergency departments;
- imaging and diagnostic services;
- surgery and procedure centers;
- inpatient nursing facilities; and,
- medical offices.
They are open 24-hours/day, seven days/week, and commonly located in small, underserved areas where there is not sufficient demand for healthcare to support a full-size hospital.
Microhospitals operate as comprehensive, one-stop shops, with both primary and secondary care available. Many microhospitals also have certified and accredited medical laboratories onsite that can provide immediate testing results.
Population Health and Precision Medicine Benefit from Microhospitals
Microhospitals have been in existence for more than 10 years and are growing in popularity among consumers as well as providers. Rising healthcare demands, lower costs, convenient locations, and more personalized care make them popular for patients.
From a business perspective, microhospitals have much lower construction and overhead costs when compared to large hospitals, making them an affordable market-growth opportunity for providers. The savings are passed on to the patients as services are offered at a lower rate than conventional hospitals.
Another advantage of microhospitals is that the services offered can be designed specifically for the demographics of their neighborhood. A guiding goal of both population health and precision medicine initiatives.
“That’s the beauty of it,” Robert Garcia, Vice President of Healthcare Advisory Services at Transwestern, told U.S. News and World Report (U.S. News). “You can tailor the hospital to the needs of the community, so if it’s an older community it may be more catheterization lab, and if it’s a younger community it may have more orthopedic procedures.”
Nineteen states now have at least one microhospital in operation with more in the works. They often offer more convenient, quicker access to healthcare than traditional full-size hospitals can deliver. Larger facilities tend to have longer wait times and typically cannot provide the same personalized care as microhospitals, due to a higher number of patients and many diverse problems.Other Plans for Community Focused Microhospitals
Phoenix-based Abrazo Community Health Network, plans to open a microhospital in Mesa, AZ, in the spring of 2019. This facility will include an emergency department, an operating room, eight inpatient rooms, and will focus on lower acuity inpatient procedures.
“Medical care continues to evolve with a consumer focus, and this is a new model for bringing healthcare services into the community,” Frank Molinaro, CEO of Abrazo’s Phoenix Market, told Commercial Executive Magazine. “The Mesa microhospital will offer a patient-friendly design with emergency and acute care services in an efficient, convenient location. It’s designed to provide close integration with our other facilities for patients who may require more complex care.”
Emerus, a microhospital developer, operates more than 20 microhospitals nationwide. According to their website, the company has 24 additional microhospitals under development.
“Emerus picks locations that have a need for additional emergency room beds,” Richard Bonnin, Senior Public Relations Consultant at Emerus, told U.S. News. “Increasing access to high-quality emergency care and focusing on the patient-physician relationship has provided a strong foundation for our growth.”
Not a Replacement for Traditional Hospitals
While microhospitals are equipped to handle a large range of healthcare issues, they are not able to deal with all medical situations. There are cases where patients may have to be referred to a larger facility.
“Not every [microhospital] is a Level 1 trauma center or cardiac center of excellence. It’s up to the smaller hospitals to diagnose, stabilize, and transfer patients as appropriate,” noted Bonnin in the U.S. News article. “They will send patients to the best trauma center, the best heart hospital, the best stroke center without a lengthy emergency room wait, depending on what the most immediate needs may be.”
Although most microhospitals are owned by existing health networks and most likely receive their medical laboratory services through their parent organization, independent clinical laboratories might find themselves being contacted when faster TATs or closer proximities are required to ensure positive healthcare outcomes.