Medical coworking: the future of healthcare provision

By startupbeatadmin February 10, 2020

Article by Tim Hinchliffe. Originally posted on The Sociable

Medical coworking is an emerging trend that aims to leave the traditional bureaucratic processes behind in favor of flexibility and maximal efficiency for patients and professionals.

The number of coworking spaces around the world is projected to reach 25,968 by 2022, presenting an increase of 42% from 2019.

The sharing economy has had seismic effects across industries, but when it comes to driving its full potential, there’s a field that often gets left out of the conversation – healthcare.

Medical coworking … the one-stop-shop for most medical needs

But while a lot has been said about the benefits of medical coworking for physicians, the patients’ story is not so clear.

How can medical coworking shift the patient experience and transform the whole landscape of healthcare provision?

Medical coworking vs. traditional hospital setting

Medical coworking is based on the premise that it will reduce the financial, operational, and administrative burden for medical professionals. This directly affects the way physicians are able to operate, giving them more flexibility and less bureaucracy to navigate. Physicians have more freedom to better organize their schedules and prioritize patient interaction.

One of the areas where this manifests is the shorter wait time for patients. Medical coworking inherently accommodates a lower patient volume than traditional hospitals, resulting in shorter average wait time – a key indicator of patient satisfaction.

According to a Vitals survey, physicians with the highest rating have an average wait time of just over 13 minutes while those with the lowest ratings have an average of more than 34 minutes. But it’s not just about the ratings – 1 in 5 patients have actually changed doctors because of long wait times.

Medical coworking can host diverse expertise, with neurologists, internists, pediatricians, psychologists, physical therapists, and many others

The lower number of patients also allows for a more qualitative approach to healthcare. Patients can build a closer relationship with their physician to tailor a more individualized treatment or even an integral strategy for chronic conditions, getting the sensation of control and stability.

Rather than just a reactive approach – generally associated with traditional hospital settings – medical coworking enables a more proactive approach to healthcare.

With many physicians under one roof, patients can also take advantage of internal referrals. Medical coworking can host diverse expertise, with neurologists, internists, pediatricians, psychologists, physical therapists, and many others.

This means that patients can schedule appointments for the same day and save valuable time and travel costs. Not only does this advocate for a more holistic idea of healthcare, but it also positions medical coworking as the one-stop-shop for most medical needs.

The exchange among doctors also contributes to the creation of a whole medical community of professionals with common goals, who can interchange perspectives and find ways to drive personal growth – often in ways that the traditional corporate structure inhibits.

Shift towards a patient-centric approach

All these benefits have one thing in common: They contribute to an improved patient experience. Why is that so important? In today’s healthcare, patients are empowered by choice.

With both traditional and emerging schemes – such as retail clinics or telemedicine – the patient experience becomes a key differentiator, and thus an important competitive advantage.

Medical coworking goes hand in hand with the patient being in the driver’s seat

Healthcare providers can’t rely on retaining clients based on their need to access treatment any longer. They need to take proactive steps to drive patient satisfaction.

Medical coworking goes hand in hand with the patient being in the driver’s seat. The arrangement also directly encourages the patient to cultivate closer relationships with their physicians.

It’s a secure and intimate environment that allows for conversation and collaboration. It enables doctors to better tailor treatments and prescriptions to individual needs and combine their empirical experience and empathy, instead of relying on data-driven strategies that tend to optimize for profit.

Even when it comes to the physical space, medical coworking offers a more relaxed and boutique environment with little resemblance to the commonly feared doctor’s offices.

Potential waiting to be tapped

For now, medical coworking is a concept that still needs to be expanded upon. There are various coworking spaces around the world specializing in healthcare, but the offer is still rather limited.

As it grows, medical coworking could become the hub of personalized therapies and specialized appointments. With the potential to leave the rigid hospital settings behind,  it could allow for more alternative approaches to healthcare provision — psychologists could organize group sessions, scoliosis patients could come in regularly for their intensive training sessions, and those interested in nutrition could attend guest workshops.

Medical coworking is a powerful concept that brings about a different approach to healthcare

Medical coworking will also contribute to the advancement of innovative technologies. Apart from incorporating strategies to optimize data collection and management, what we are already seeing is the use of chatbots or apps for scheduling appointments.

While still on the rise, this will soon become an indispensable asset: After all, 68% of patients say they are more likely to choose medical providers that offer the ability to book, change, or cancel appointments online.

Still in its infancy, medical coworking is a powerful concept that brings about a different approach to healthcare. It puts the patient experience right in its center – and that’s what the future of healthcare provision is all about.

Disclosure: This article includes a client of an Espacio portfolio company.