A New Wave Of Shared Workspace: Medical Coworking

We’ve previously written about niche coworking spaces that create specialized work environments for their members, spanning all types of industries from cannabis and construction, to health & wellness, music, food, and more. And it seems like the trend keeps on growing and expanding to other industries.

There’s a new wave of shared workspace that’s serving the needs of medical practitioners and their patients.

We’re talking about medical coworking; and doctors appear to be quite intrigued by this new concept.

Traditionally, doctors have leased small medical office space to serve the needs of their private practices. However, over the past few years, the medical field has seen much consolidation of private practices with lots of smaller spaces being integrated with larger health care providers.

The reason behind this consolidation is much like the rapidly expanding coworking industry. Doctors operating their own offices are selling their practices to the larger providers in order to reap the benefits that result from the overall efficiency of more doctors sharing the same medical space. This generates a large amount of savings because shared space also means shared resources (meaning access to resources at a lower cost supplied by larger health care providers).

Evan Lewitt, an associate on the health care brokerage team at the real estate firm CRBE, said that “physicians who prefer not to share will end up having a tough time competing with the large providers,” in a recent GlobeSt.com interview.

“If consumers have gotten comfortable sharing car rides, office space, and apartments, then physicians can get comfortable sharing their practice with some of their contemporaries. And if the thought of this makes them sick, at least they all know a good doctor,” he added.

“It really comes down to how the space, services, and pricing are designed and what their other alternatives are,” explained John Groberg, the founder of Viva MedSuites, a first-of-its-kind medical coworking space in Scottsdale, Arizona. “[Doctors] definitely have to think a little differently about how they operate, but they can save a lot of money on upfront capital expenses and ongoing monthly overhead if they are willing to make a few tweaks in their thinking,” he added.

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Groberg said he has been in the shared workspace arena in some form or another since 2001 and “realized that for the independent medical or wellness practitioner, there weren’t any true coworking space providers set up to service the specific needs of medical clients.” So this past June, Groberg opened up Viva MedSuites, the first medical coworking space that can accommodate practitioners of any medical sector to see their patients within the same physical address.

Consistent with the flexibility and convenience that general coworking spaces provide, Viva MedSuites offers tenants the ability to book and access the medical space they need for short amounts of time. Practitioners can book the space for the day or even half the day without having to pay monthly rent when the space is only being occupied only a few days a week.

According to a recent online article in National Real Estate Investor, “Viva MedSuites is coming online at a time when the medical office sector is seeing weaker demand in the Phoenix area.” The article cites a report from Colliers International in which “the vacancy rate in the Phoenix medical office market will likely go up by as much as 100 basis points in 2017 amid the backdrop of uncertainty over federal health care policies.”

But if there are doubts from those in the coworking business as to whether Groberg can make his space work, there seems to be little personal apprehension. “I’m focused on making this space a success and we’ll see where it goes from there,” he said. Being open less than a month, he’s “already gotten some interesting calls from building owners, investors, and even Regus. I’ve also got other business models that could re-shape other parts of the medical space arena that I’m very interested in pursuing,” Groberg added.

In the article from National Real Estate Investor, Michael Morton, a principal of Medical Office Brokers in Scottsdale, doesn’t think that Viva MedSuites is a “groundbreaking model, but he does think it has a place in the medical office market.”

Groberg would respectfully disagree, as he is the first to incorporate practitioners of different industry sectors within the same space. “There are so many amazing advancements in the medical space in recent years. I believe it’s high time that medical space itself advanced. Viva MedSuites is a step in that direction for small space users. There are other ways for larger space users or more specialized users that I have a pretty fundamentally new vision for. But, one thing at a time,” Groberg said.