On Call at the Mall

A Mixed Methods Study of U.S. Medical Malls

Published in: BMC Health Services Research, v. 13, no. 471, Nov. 2013, 8 p

Posted on RAND.org on November 01, 2013

by Lori Uscher-Pines, Ateev Mehrotra, Ramya Chari

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BACKGROUND: The decline of the traditional U.S. shopping mall and a focus on more consumer- centered care have created an opportunity for "medical malls". Medical malls are defined as former retail spaces repurposed for healthcare tenants or mixed-use medical/retail facilities. We aimed to describe the current reach of healthcare services in U.S. malls, characterize the medical mall model and emerging trends, and assess the potential of these facilities to serve low-income populations. METHODS: We used a mixed methods approach which included a comprehensive literature review, key informant interviews, and a descriptive analysis of the Directory of Major Malls, an online retail database. RESULTS: Six percent (n = 89) of large, enclosed shopping malls in the U.S. include at least one non-optometry or dental healthcare tenant. We identified a total of 28 medical malls across the U.S., the majority of which opened in the past five years and serve middle or high income populations. Stakeholders felt the key strengths of medical malls were more convenient access including public transportation, greater familiarity for patients, and "one stop shopping" for primary care and specialty services as well as retail needs. CONCLUSIONS: While medical malls currently account for a small fraction of malls in the US, they are a new model for healthcare with significant potential for growth.

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