The co-working concept is evolving, and has now spread to outpatient medical practices, with some companies offering this model for tenants. At least one of them plans to expand nationwide.
MedCoShare, a healthcare shared workspace provider based in Philadelphia, offers a flexible alternative to traditional medical office leasing. The company allows medical practitioners to rent space according to their own schedules based on membership agreements, without requiring long-term lease commitments.
“We see [the pandemic] creating more of a need than what we anticipated from certain parties,” says Anthony Khan, co-founder and chief financial officer at MedCoShare. “Some of the hospitals have been cutting back hours for their physicians and healthcare practitioners, so there are more who are looking for other sources of income and practice outside of the hospital system. So, it’s created more of a demand than what we’ve seen before the pandemic.”
For example, nurse practitioner Marybell Rodriguez, who specializes in medical grade skincare such as Boton, has signed up for space with MedCoShare.
“It provides me security. I have a month-to-month flex pass,” she says. “I don’t have any long-term contracts or leases or anything, and it helps me build my clientele with the comfort of knowing that if the pandemic flares up and I have to shut down, I won’t have to pay for leasing without even generating revenue. So, starting off, just to build my clientele, it works perfectly for me.”
There are only a handful of co-sharing space providers in the healthcare sector, with a concentration in states including New York, Arizona, Maryland and Pennsylvania. But Ronak Vyas, a commercial real estate broker and co-founder of ARA Group LLC, an investment holding company with more than 25 rental units in two states, says the trend should “start opening up in other cities.” Corinna Bowser, MD, owner of Suburban Allergy Consultants who subleases her space through HealCo, a platform similar to Airbnb but for medical space, says the trend is becoming more prominent because it helps medical practitioners cut down on operating costs while building up a steady clientele, which is especially beneficial in today’s pandemic environment.
Office tenants reconsidering their space needs also means more vacant spaces might become available in commercial buildings going forward, according to Vyas. This could open up opportunities to partner with landlords to expand these short-term alternatives to traditional medical office space leasing, he notes.
“With leases you generally have to do personal guarantees and deposits,” says Vyas. “[MedCoShare] don’t do any of that… There’s really no commitment from the practitioner side.”
While medical practitioners are expected to bring their own specialized equipment to the co-sharing spaces, according to Vyas, MedCoShare does provide basic equipment, including AED, BP cuff, scales, spirometer, otoscopes and ophthalmoscopes. The provider currently operates in the Fishtown neighborhood in Philadelphia, with plans to open two more locations next year.