Are integrated clinics the new must-have amenity?

by David Kitai03 Dec 2020

Even if vaccines are on the horizon and the days of terror and uncertainty may be coming to an end, so much will remain changed. At least in the medium-term many people will go through the world more fearful of illness and cognizant of their health. Vaccine rollouts will be slow, difficult, and confusing. The surprising effectiveness of remote-first workforces too, means that tenants and employees considering returning to the office need a new set of incentives if they’re going to pay class-A office space rents.

Matt McCambridge (pictured) believes he has a solution, a plan that will incentivize a return to the office and help alleviate the healthcare anxieties of the tenants and employees coming back to in-person. McCambridge is the founder and CEO of Eden Health, a company that provides “concierge health care” by, among other strategies, integrating their own clinics into class A office complexes. These integrated clinics, McCambridge explained, would offer services to cover 70-80% of common conditions and issues people face. He said that these clinics offer commercial landlords, who aggregate a number of employers, a chance to decrease their tenants’ healthcare costs while assuaging the healthcare worries of individual employees.

“We have an advanced care model, where we have primary care providers doing annual physicals, chronic care, acute care, disease management, behavioral health care, including talk therapy with licensed therapists, physical therapy, as well as specialists who consult on cases,” McCambridge said when asked about Eden Health’s model. “What makes this interesting in the commercial real estate context is that this is something that everybody in the building is interested in using on at least a yearly basis, before you even add COVID and the protection of the space from outbreaks.”

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McCambridge stressed that by integrating clinics like his into their office buildings, commercial landlords can create three incentives for a return to their space: reduced healthcare costs for individual tenants, easier healthcare access for employees, and an integrated health unit that can help monitor and control the spread of a potential COVID-19 outbreak. In the offices where they’re already working, Eden Health’s clinics are supporting back to work efforts with testing, monitoring, and planned vaccine rollout capacity. It seems likely that COVID-19 vaccinations will require regular booster shots and integrated clinics like Eden Health can ensure that herd immunity is maintained.

Beyond the pandemic, however, McCambridge believes this model will be a must-have amenity for class A office spaces. He sees an integrated health center as a differentiator for an office building and the services they offer, including mental health support. Before the pandemic these healthcare amenities were seen as necessary, and, even if our memories of COVID-19 fade, McCambridge thinks these trends will continue well into the future.

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McCambridge is already seeing wider uptake from commercial tenants. Where his purpose-built clinics were being put into single buildings in years past, he’s now seeing major commercial landlords integrate them portfolio-wide. He believes this uptake presents a crucial piece of information that commercial mortgage professionals need to be aware of - this amenity can make the difference when it comes to closing a real estate deal. If a commercial originator is trying to drive a deal with a class A space that demands high rents, the adoption of integrated health services like Eden Health’s can push a prospect over the edge. The crucial thing for commercial originators, McCambridge said, is to get educated.

“I think that healthcare can be a little confusing, and some people sometimes don’t want to necessarily dig into the details,” McCambridge said. “When you talk about a physical medical office at your worksite, sometimes people think that’s going to be a space that will require special permitting, or it’s going to be a very large space, or you’re going to need a particular kind of construction in the office. But the kind of services that we’re doing are specifically targeted that they can be kind of in a normal white box space. The crucial thing is educating yourself on some of what is real about medical care, so that you don’t get surprised - and going in a direction where you’re advising people about things that might not actually be accurate.”