With the rise of population health and a shift from volume to value, health systems are diversifying their real estate portfolios in terms of what and where they are building.

Last year, St. Joseph Hoag Health of Southern California opened its first Wellness Corner. The corners are strategically based near employment centers and residential complexes and staffed by a nurse practitioner and medical assistant. At first glance, it may seem like just another urgent care clinic, but in reviewing its list of services, it's plain that St. Joseph Hoag Wellness Corners take things a step further.

Fitness training, wellness coaching, sports physicals, nutrition counseling and stress management are just a few of the health and wellness services patients can receive at any of the partnership system's three wellness corners.

In an interview with Shannon Kraus, FAIA, FACHA, principal and senior vice president of HKS, he explains that community-based care is "causing owners and health care systems to take stock of new projects and, in many cases, shift or put on hold what they were planning to do."

In our 2015 Hospital Construction Survey, 21 percent of respondents said that their health systems were considering building fitness and wellness centers in direct response to reduced reimbursement rates and new payment arrangements. In our 2014 Health Facility Design Survey, 51 percent of respondents said their five-year outpatient facility expansion plans saw fitness and wellness centers in their future.

Surveys from the Medical Fitness Association show that the number of medical fitness centers has grown from 79 in 1985 to 1,284 in 2014. Akron General Health System has set itself as a leader in this field with its 98,000-sq. ft. Health & Wellness Center. The center, located next to its medical office building, brings outpatient services together with a fitness program called LifeStyles, featuring cardiovascular and weight-lifting equipment, an indoor lap pool and warm water pool, a gymnasium, indoor and outdoor running tracks, a youth fitness area, exercise studios and an indoor rock climbing wall.

Not only are health and wellness centers on trend with health care's changing model, but they also add to the bottom line of many health systems since services typically are paid out of pocket. For instance, former Akron General rehab patients pay to become part of LifeStyles and, from its success, it's clear that many patients think it's well worth the cost.


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