Why do many cities have medical districts where several major hospitals are located close to one another?


Why do many cities have medical districts where several major hospitals are located close to one another?

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There are lots of things that contribute. A big one is land availability – major hospitals are often huge complexes with lots of buildings and tons of parking, so they need a decently big chunk of land. If a farmer on the edge of a city finally closes up shop and sells his 500 acre plot, everyone swoops in to grab a chunk big enough for their hospital at the same time. They’ll never get a plot big enough in the city center, so they all end up as neighbors on the same old farmland.

Changing/new infrastructure can also contribute to this. There might be lots of empty land somewhere that is difficult to reach. When a new highway or train line goes in, suddenly the land is more viable/attractive to developers.

Some hospitals, even when they seem to have different branding, are all owned by the same parent company or by the government. In these cases, it is more efficient to put them close together so they can share resources. They can all share a single parking lot, for example, rather than each needing to build & maintain their own. Or they can refer all babies to a single NICU, rather than paying for the staff and materials to have 4. The proximity saves the parent company money.

Even when the hospitals are totally independent of each other, it can be to their mutual benefit to be near each other. They can arrange to share advanced equipment, ambulances, helicopters, or specialists that neither hospital could justify purchasing on their own. They can share more mundane things like medicines or simple equipment too, when an unexpected shortage or technical fault poses a threat to patient care. This sharing aspect is particularly true of university hospitals, where the emphasis is on teaching and having a partnership with another university can expand your students’ opportunities a lot.

Finally, there is just a bit of classic market competition. It’s like how you always find a CVS within a few blocks of a Walgreens. If you don’t like the service provided by the first hospital or you want a second opinion, it’s so easy to just walk into the hospital next door and set up an appointment. Their proximity to each other creates customers. I don’t think there are as many people bouncing between hospitals as between pharmacies, but it’s the same basic idea.

Smokeyrow hits it on the head that a medical district creates a mutually benefited area. Along with the hospitals there will be a lot of support services and doctor’s offices. You will have oxygen companies, medical supply houses, walk-in clinics, maybe outside ambulance services and a lot more. The city or county may offer tax breaks to help these similar business group together. Transportation services such as buses, trollys or similar will have more drop off spots to facilitate the increased traffic. Cities have found that concentration of services like this work well together.