There’s no question about it: a relatively young concept that disrupts the centuries-old healthcare industry is here to stay. This year medical coworking celebrates its fifth year. Created in 2017 in New York by a company called Lina, medical coworking is a rapidly growing international industry reshaping how independent health practitioners work, live, and care for their patients.
It is no surprise that the concept of flexible medical space saw quick adoption among health and wellness professionals. It was embraced as a long-awaited relief, finally helping them overcome common barriers to independent practice.
Despite a slowdown in growth, the medical coworking industry came out alive and strong following the COVID-19 pandemic and is expected to continue growing and thriving in a post-pandemic world. The medical coworking space will continue to advance quickly in the coming year, further developing its identity and experimenting with various business models and offerings.
Here’s a look at five major trends defining medical coworking today and what they mean for the future as the industry evolves.
1. Growing demand for flexible medical workspaces
After a brief drop in 2020 in many key markets, such as New York, medical coworking occupancy levels stabilized and gradually increased throughout 2021, reaching pre-pandemic levels in the first months of 2022. Ever-growing overheads and increasing pressure from major hospital groups' market consolidation are pushing independent health practitioners to find new ways of hedging their risks and increasing efficiency. As New York has shown, coworking operators continue seeing a sharp increase in practitioners looking to leverage the advantages of flexible medical space-as-a-service solutions.
2. Localized working and satellite offices
Another trend that has been growing for some time due to a rise in global mobility and an increase in work culture flexibility due to a pandemic is the concept of localized working and satellite offices. Of course, it’s not financially viable for an independent health practitioner to lease and fit-out multiple offices, so they’re going to rely on the services of medical coworking operators. This model is an ideal, low-risk solution for practitioners who want to expand to new areas and increase patient access and volume, or simply cut their commute time a few days a week. Medical coworking operators will continue expanding and branching out across state lines due to the demand for satellite offices. One of the major moves in the industry this year will be Lina’s expansion into the South Florida market and diversifying its New York portfolio with a new location in Aventura.
3. Tech-powered workspaces
Leveraging smart technologies and automation will continue playing a significant role in lowering overheads and improving the management and productivity of the shared medical office spaces. Technologies such as self-check-in kiosks, access cards, coworking space management software, booking systems, automated invoices, etc., make it easier to run a shared space, keeping everyone working at top efficiency and enhancing the personalized and seamless members’ experience.
4. Spotlight on concierge amenities
Medical coworking spaces are evolving and becoming community-oriented, patient-centered, full-service locations that provide a diverse range of services beyond the typical medical office. Front desk reception and secure patient check-in, meeting, event, and outdoor spaces, complimentary refreshments, cleaning, and mail services are just some of the additional services offered to create a full-service concierge experience available at no extra cost to members.
Many operators will continue expanding their offerings, striving to provide their members with each service they might need during the day. Space-as-a-service will remain the foundation of the medical coworking model, with other revenue streams built atop it. Examples include in-house marketing and creative services, additional IT support, and patient acquisition solutions.
5. Focus on community
Since its inception, being part of a sharing economy, coworking embraced and built upon the concept of a strong community behind the shared spaces. Medical coworking is no different. As the world is slowly getting back to normal, people are eager to reestablish their human connections. 2022 will be a vital year to revitalize community-building efforts by helping like-minded professionals network, refer patients, and develop friendships and partnerships.
Moving forward, the medical coworking industry will undergo changes to align itself with the ‘new normal’ of a post-pandemic world. There will be more fluidity and customizations to the model that will allow medical coworking to position itself as a more viable option for independent health practitioners in the coming years.