Anchor Health Properties: Paula Crowley, CEO

by HCE Exchange on March 16, 2011

Founded by Mr. Lou Sachs and Ms. Paula Crowley in 1985, Anchor Health Properties is a real estate firm that focuses exclusively on the development of medical facilities. “We work with the hospital from the conceptual stage to the opening of the project,” says Paula Crowley, the Chief Executive Officer. This includes everything from collaborating with the hospital on the project vision, program and scope of services to finding the land, identifying a suitable architect, managing the architect and the design process, and managing the construction and the move-in.

Making Healthcare Consumers Feel Better

Anchor brings the strengths of the retail experience to healthcare consumers. Both Sachs and Crowley began their real estate careers with one of the preeminent retail development companies in the country, the Rouse Company of Columbia, Maryland.   According to Crowley, “The whole experience of being in a healthcare facility should be a positive experience, like any other experience for which the consumer has paid.”

Anchor Health Properties implements the traditional retail fundamentals of location, access, visibility, convenience, and customer service to build consumer-oriented structures for healthcare delivery. This approach works for different kinds of healthcare facilities such as a medical office building, a specialty clinic, or a replacement hospital.

People buy healthcare like they buy other services. Anchor helps to merchandize healthcare services, and designs structures that provide a convenient, one-stop shopping experience to the healthcare consumer. Healthcare facilities should integrate a range of healthcare services such as radiology, lab, cardiac diagnostics and physician offices.

Many of these services will be sharing space and also sharing customers.

Apart from these conventional clinical and diagnostic services provided in medical facilities, Anchor projects often include a number of  complimentary services such as a café, a spa, a healing garden, a fitness center, or an interactive multi-media healthcare information center.

Ownership Models

Beyond planning and managing the construction of the healthcare facility, Anchor also provides its clients with flexible ownership options.

Healthcare providers ready to bear the risks of development can provide the capital and own the project, leaving Anchor to take care of the responsibilities of planning, development, and management of the construction.

“However, if the hospital does not have the capital to own a project, we will provide the financing,” says Crowley. Anchor is then ready to take the development risks of the project, as the owner. In such cases, Anchor will lease space to the healthcare provider and various physician tenants.

The third ownership structure that Anchor promotes is a partnership arrangement. If the healthcare provider wants to share in the ownership of the project, the firm includes the hospital as well as physician tenants as part of the ownership entity.  Physicians and the hospital get a chance to invest in the real estate, where they lease space and receive returns on the investment, while building equity in the project.

Successful Projects

Each project that Anchor Health develops is a critical step towards making the whole healthcare experience less stressful for the consumer. Projects developed by Anchor are guided by the firm’s strategy to reinforce the healthcare provider’s existing or desired strategic and branding positions in their particular marketplace.

Doylestown Hospital, in Pennsylvania, wanted an outpatient facility that would increase the market reach of the hospital. The 120,000 sf Health and Wellness Center opened in 2001 and the project’s success was reflected in its first year revenue – it outpaced projections by nearly seven times.  The project is in a great location and offers all the amenities and comfort of a quality retail store and integrates a number of outpatient services in one convenient setting.

In 2005, Anchor completed the first phase of a new outpatient complex for Capital Health System in Hamilton, New Jersey.  Before this project, Capital was based in downtown Trenton with two acute care hospitals.  Phase II opened this year and along with the original project has given Capital Health a strategic presence in a rapidly expanding suburb of Trenton.

“Another recent facility developed by Anchor is the Good Shepherd Health and Technology Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania.  Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Hospital’s outpatient facilities, built nearly 20 years ago, were scattered over a number of buildings, on their downtown Allentown campus of Good Shepherd Rehab Hospital. These services were consolidated in a new 64,000 sq. ft. outpatient center.  The project can be accessed by wheelchair, which is extremely convenient for the physically disabled consumers. An attractive feature of this building is the Rehability, a store that offers products such as clothes, mobility products, communication products, and recreation items for the physically disabled.

There is a huge opportunity to create the right kind of healthcare projects, and to re-create the healthcare experience. The challenge ahead is to continuously push the envelope in design options, materials used, and physician relationships.  The goal is to maintain a fine balance between schedules and budgets, and the creation of a new kind of healthcare experience firmly rooted in the tradition of retail principles.

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