The impact of the COVID pandemic is far-reaching, upending the norms of operation for businesses and families around the world.  I recently moderated the Bisnow webinar panel Minneapolis Health Care Update which included developers of health care facilities. The panel confirmed that the impact on the health care provider community has been especially significant and is ongoing with the ebb and flow of viral spikes.  The most immediate impact was the sudden surge of patients requiring high levels of care; it’s fair to say our health care operations were not prepared for a pandemic, and their staff members have certainly borne a historic burden in meeting the needs of their patients in response to it.  At the same time, health care providers were forced to alter their operations, first when they had to suspend discretionary health care services such as surgeries and other significant modes of care, and later when they had to adapt their services to safely manage patient intake or virus exposure and modify facilities in an effort to safely return to regular patient interactions.  These latter requirements came at a very high cost.  Taken together, the “business” of health care has been forced to adapt to a degree that was not anticipated a little more than a year ago.

The most obvious change, from a consumer standpoint, has been the rapid deployment of telehealth platforms that enable patient-doctor interactions without the need to access the provider facility and potentially transmit or risk exposure to the virus. This capability has been available for a very long time, but its growth was essentially compelled by providers needing to find a safe way to continue their operations, interact with patients and generate revenue.  One can assume that the reliance on this approach to patient care will be more common going forward, even when it’s possible to have personal exam visits.  This use of telehealth technology will require that medical facilities be designed, or redesigned, to accommodate the virtual aspects of health care delivery.

Notwithstanding the role of telehealth, the overwhelming majority of patient health care interactions will continue to occur in bricks-and-mortar health care buildings whether it be a hospital, clinic, or another specialty facility.  One of the most pronounced changes in this physical aspect of health care delivery has been the consolidation of physician groups with health care providers as a means of capturing patient volumes and revenue.   Concurrently, the trend of developing specialty facilities under the ownership and control of physician groups, or of large investment groups, proceeds unabated.   Thus, we will likely be seeing more standalone surgery centers, urgent care facilities and the like in our future.  The long-term implication of the telehealth trend for patient care, and especially for hospitals with a mandate to provide a broad range of costly services, remains unknown.

The health care industry has been forever changed by the many challenges of this pandemic. It was an honor to moderate a panel of individuals working in the health care technology and real estate sectors. The panelists offered many insights into innovations, opportunities, and expansions in health care particularly relating to changes within health care facilities and future real estate needs.  If you would like to learn more, please listen to the Bisnow panel discussion Minneapolis Health Care Update here.

Peter Coyle advises business and institutional clients on solving problems related to federal, state and local law and regulation. He represents clients before the Minnesota Legislature and state agencies, as well as cities, counties and townships, on a wide variety of business licensing, permitting, regulatory compliance, environmental review and related matters. The main focus of his practice is advising land owners, developers and contractors who are seeking local and state regulatory approvals associated with new commercial, industrial and residential land development projects.  If you would like assistance with local and state regulatory approvals associated with new commercial, industrial and residential land development projects, or have questions about real estate development please contact Peter at