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The Doctor Will See You Now—Without Leaving Your Home: As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage, telemedicine is becoming the latest luxury residential must-have
By Dan Avery
August 17, 2020
In housing developments and apartments across America, gyms, pools, and party rooms are sitting empty. But amenities focused on wellness and health care—rather than leisure—are on the rise in the COVID-19 era.
In South Florida, for instance, real-estate developer CC Homes has started offering complimentary telemedicine to buyers through a partnership with Baptist Health South Florida, a nonprofit clinical-care network with 10 hospitals and more than 100 outpatient centers throughout the region.
CC Homes’s homeowners are provided with a one-year membership to Baptist Health Care on Demand, which includes unlimited virtual urgent-care visits along with an in-home TytoCare digital diagnostic device that transmits heart rate and temperature and allows doctors to examine patients’ skin, ears, and throat remotely.
“Even pre-pandemic there’s been a move into telehealth,” said CC Homes cofounder Jim Carr. “If you have a routine illness or a checkup, you don’t want to tie up your day going to the doctor’s office.”
Residents at Canarias, a CC Homes community of more than 300 luxury houses and townhomes in Miami’s Downtown Doral neighborhood, were the first to receive the kits, in December 2019. When the coronavirus hit, the company decided to expand the service to other existing and planned developments.
Danny Elfenbein, director of digital and consumer solutions at Baptist Health, is already fielding inquiries from other real-estate companies.
“Developers have always looked at wellness—yoga classes, gyms, rooftop gardening—but actual health care hasn’t really been part of the mix before,” he said. “The TytoCare device is really the tipping point.”
Across America, health-focused programs are also gaining traction as a must-have/in-home amenity. On-demand medical concierge services were already available at the Ritz-Carlton Residences Miami Beach before COVID-19, but their use has increased dramatically. “It seemed like an added-value luxury perk and now it’s something they find essential,” a representative told AD.
Residents will have priority access to the $60 million, 100,000-square-foot Center for Health + Performance, which will offer diagnostic and surgical services, labs, doctors’ offices, and an on-site pharmacy.
There’s a focus on preventive health as well, with a spa, training and diet programs, and sports medicine clinic. And a sophisticated digital portal will track health data as residents pursue their wellness goals.
Health-care expert Stephen Watson, who partnered on the project, said Legacy is aimed at “a new wave of consumers who will be increasingly invested in their health and wellness when making any future travel or real-estate decisions.”
In light of the pandemic, Royal Palm is incorporating CHP’s medical-grade air filtration systems and antimicrobial surfaces throughout the building and is looking into voice-activated elevators, touchless room key access, and UV light sanitation for high-traffic areas.
There’s a reason South Florida is the nexus for this boom in health-focused amenities. In addition to an older population more likely to access care, the region has a sizable international community that may find the American health-care system daunting. It’s also a popular destination for medical tourism.
“People come to Florida because they want an elective surgery or just a healthier lifestyle,” said Royal Palm Company’s Dan Kodsi, whose firm is developing Legacy. “Health is the new wealth, we say.”
But medical perks are becoming increasingly common in real-estate developments nationwide. Shift Capital will offer a telemedicine service, Teladoc Health, to residents of its new 100-unit affordable housing development in Philadelphia’s Kensington neighborhood.
In New York, Related Companies is offering on-site COVID-19 PPR and antibody testing for residents at more than a dozen of its properties, through a partnership with Sollis Health, a concierge medical practice.
Testing at home has “helped people feel more comfortable and confident about their health, well-being, and the atmosphere in our buildings,” Related CEO Jeff Blau said in a statement.
Madison House, a luxury condo building near Herald Square, is offering a full membership to Sollis Health at signing. Residents can request house calls, access telemedicine, or visit Sollis medical centers in Tribeca and on the Upper East Side. And if they have to see a specialist, patient advocates are available to guide them to the best doctor. It’s no small perk: An annual membership at Sollis Health starts at $5,000.
“I think developers have generally shied away from recommending health-care providers before because it’s such a personal thing,” said Sollis founder Andrew Olanow. “But in the wake of COVID-19, that’s all changed. It’s about being proactive.”
He sees the trend in health-care amenities only growing as priorities shift during and after the pandemic. “You’re already living and working at home, working out at home,” Olanow continued. “Now you’ll access top medical care from home, too.”