10 Reasons To Utilize a Healthcare Real Estate Provider

Call MREA to promote your property offering directly to active medical professionals and qualified healthcare real estate investors!

Top Ten Reasons Our Clients Like Our Platform (as surveyed by MREA):

  1. Reduce Closing Costs
  2. Slash Days on Market (DOM)
  3. Receive Qualified Tenants or Buyers
  4. Increase Showings
  5. Eliminate Unsophisticated Brokers and Offers
  6. Improve Confidentiality
  7. Access Capital for Projects
  8. Joint Venture with ‘Like’ Interests
  9. Initiate Strategy for Reform
  10. Access Knowledgeable Vendors

The most comprehensive healthcare database of real estate solutions belongs to MREA and our talented medical real estate advisory. Call us at 713-701-7900!

Joint Ventures for Outpatient Facilities

Historically, hospitals have entertained reliable income streams from the their surgical and diagnostic imaging components. Now, because patients have greater access to physician-owned surgery centers, coupled with advancements in imaging technology, it is increasingly difficult for hospitals to have income certainty from these procedures within a hospital setting.

On the other hand, proposed and already implemented changes to the Medicare payment system suggest that physician providers face the threat of losing a greater percentage of revenue. Thus, many are seeking partners with hospital systems from a joint venture perspective.

1. The most common form of joint venture is the division of ownership between the hospital and physicians. In this agreement, the hospital and participating physicians form a new entity and each contribute funds or lender approved interest equal to their pro rata ownership in the new entity. The equity investment model has proved to be a “win-win” situation for both the hospital and the participating physicians. The hospital better secures a long-term relationship with referring physicians, builds loyalty and trust, and recaptures a lost revenue stream. The physicians are better positioned for a positive ROI and can focus on patient care rather than highly detail-oriented tasks and risks that exist in real estate ownership and management. A potential drawback under the surgery center setting is that the payment received under this form of joint venture can be significantly less than what the hospital would receive for the same procedures performed on a hospital inpatient basis.

2. The healthcare industry has seen more “under hospital arrangements” over the past decade, although many have been recently banished from hospital settings. While this model can take on many variations, several characteristics are in common. The participating physicians provide to the hospital a certain ancillary service (from the use of primary equipment to turn-key management).The hospital purchases that service on a “per-click” or “per-use” basis. The hospital is the billing entity and is paid under the hospital ambulatory payment classification codes. The primary advantage of an under arrangements model is the higher payment received by the hospital as a result of the hospital billing under the hospital payment system. Moreover, the hospital bills under its managed care contracts, which commonly provide for higher payment than what is received by freestanding outpatient facilities. A few potential drawbacks to the under arrangements model are the increasing regulatory scrutiny of hospital and physicians transactions. Also, because the hospital performs the billing of the surgical procedures, the Stark law is in effect.

3. A standard block lease is where the hospital leases ancillary equipment or management responsibilities to participating physicians in return for a fair market value lease. Each participating practice bills under its own group number. The primary advantage of a block lease arrangement is its ease to initiate and terminate. Since a participating practice does not have ownership of the equipment or facility, the hospital or physician practice can quickly terminate the relationship. One major disadvantage to block leasing arrangements is that the physicians do not feel like ownerHistorically, hospitals have entertained reliable income streams from the their surgical and diagnostic imaging components. Now, because patients have greater access to physician-owned surgery centers, coupled with advancements in imaging technology, it is increasingly difficult for hospitals to exercise income certainty from these procedures within a hospital setting.

4. The shared expense model is a variation of the block lease model, except that instead of each practice leasing blocks of time, it would assume a commercially reasonable proportion of the costs of the diagnostic business and utilize the imaging equipment on a first-scheduled, first-served basis. From a regulatory perspective, the shared expense arrangement may be considered more aggressive than a block lease arrangement because it will not qualify for safe harbor protection under the Anti-Kickback Statute. However, many physician practices may still prefer this type of an arrangement due to its added flexibility of being able to schedule patients on a first-scheduled/first served basis and paying expenses in a manner that more closely reflects the actual use of the imaging equipment.

MREA is a truly comprehensive medical real estate platform that plugs the gaps from that of traditional buy-sell-lease-manage commercial real estate companies. To receive a complete package of our healthcare services, real estate offerings, consulting assignments, or merger/acquisition successes, please contact Robert S. “Bob” Lowery at 713-701-7900.

Hospitals Employing Physicians: Is It Different This Time?

Around 15 years ago, physician practices were purchased by hospitals at compellingly high prices. Unfortunately for these hospital systems, within a matter of just a few years, the physicians were re-injected back into the community, largely because the hospital systems had not realized a return on investment. Fast forward to 2012, we hear similar stories about physicians becoming incorporated into a hospital’s network.
The reasons for hospital systems obtaining physician groups may be many. But, most conversations boil down to either a specialty or geographic play, whereby hospitals seek entrance or command of certain designated fields or locales. Also, with the establishment of healthcare reform, and impetus from both hospital and physicians for greater reimbursements, as well as a movement to adopt a more streamlined, technologically advanced care distribution model — we think this time may be different.
Based on casual conversations, the motivations to join a hospital from a physician perspective is appearing much greater today than it was in the mid-90’s. A weakened economy, high employment or practice costs, entry barriers, a more savvy-consumer, and the potential for declining reimbursements, are among the top justifications that we hear from physician groups.
There seems to be a greater number of differences in how the hospital systems are purchasing medical practices today, though, when compared to that of years past. Mainly, hospital systems are not offering to pay exorbitant prices, likely as a result of previous miscalculations. As for those that we speak with, many are not seeking to purchase practices outright (staff, equipment, management, real estate, in some cases). Instead, the hospital is offering employment compensation, with greater emphasis on incentives for productivity, to a select group of physicians for a number of years. Also, because reform will include greater regulatory oversight of physician purchases, this may be an incentive for hospitals to complete acquisitions prior to 2014, when the majority of reform’s initiatives take effect.

The most common way that a physician practice group is absorbed by a hospital is through a method where physician owners and practice administrators keep an ongoing operation in place, essentially subjecting to less guidelines and oversight, but to assume some naming rights, some jurisdiction, as well as partnership for likely for potential future transaction.

As for the outright sale of a practice to a hospital, it may be achieved in several different ways. A hospital may purchase a practice’s tangible assets with physicians and staff as employees of the practice, whereby the unit is obtained as a separate entity. In another instance, the hospital may acquire the assets, physicians and staff to become employees of the hospital, in which the practice discontinues. As for unique circumstances, the staff becomes employees of the hospital, but the physicians remain separate.

A certain consideration should be made by physician groups as to the value of their practice to the hospital system. Because anti-kickback laws exist, the hospital cannot pay a physician group more than ‘fair value’ for their practice. Any payment that is beyond a certain amount could be considered a ‘kickback’ for services provided to the hospital. Also, keep in mind, the revenue generated by physicians for referrals outside of the practice itself are not considered in the valuation.

Another issue that comes from a practice purchase is that physicians are not relieved of their responsibilities. This is because the acquisition is commonly considered a separate operating division or profit center of the hospital. Consequently, the physicians compensation is still tied to the profitability of their previous medical practice. This provides troublesome if physicians are nearing retirement.

One last reminder, and a stark reminder of how this time may be different, is how the practice’s patients now can easily become part of hospital’s affiliated practice, especially with the advent of electronic medical records. In essence, the hospital now owns and operates all patient lists and records that have been accumulated by the practice group.

While I will leave you with the determination of whether it is better to sell, partner or lease with a hospital, MREA has established healthcare real estate professionals, accountants and attorneys to whom you have access. Contact us for our wide range of client responsibilities that incorporate business strategies with extensive real estate capabilities.