For a doctor, choosing the location of the clinic is almost as difficult deciding your specialised branch of study!
A good location for your clinic can take your medical practice to new heights, while an average location could keep you frustrated by lack of exposure which could be detrimental. Given the importance of location plays, it is critical to consider the following factors before finalising your clinic’s place.
We compiled the most desirable criteria for a good clinic location to feature. And whilst not all elements may be achievable in unison, each should be measured in comparison to your choice before arriving at a decision.
Your geographical location can greatly impact the success of your clinic. Location is not only a singular point on the map, it is also the composition of several sub-factors which must be considered. Most overlooked location aspects are as follows:
- Commute time. With healthcare professionals delivering an integral service in oftentimes emergency circumstances, the location of your clinic should allow for a minimal commute for both yourself and your target patients.
- Locale. Use your consultation fees as a reliable metric to determine your most suitable locale. Target an area whose residents could both afford your services, and recommend them to like-minded friends, family and colleagues.
- Neighborhood – Neighborhood (adjacent and nearby shops and offices) play a very important role in building a positive early impression of your clinic. A doctor’s clinic represents good health, so ensure area surrounding your proposed clinic site reflects the image you are trying to represent.
- Proximity to Hospitals – Having hospitals close by can be a blessing or a curse, depending on your field or practice and your target patients. Assess the impact of a nearby hospital; positives could include ease of access to local referrals, whereas negatives could include being passed over in favour of a larger institution.
- Visibility – Ensure that your clinic is easily visible to passers-by so it stays ‘top of mind’ when they are in need of a doctor. A space with prime visibility might cost you a little more than an out of sight clinic, but, think of it as an investment in marketing which will provide long-term results. While you’re at it, don’t forget to check if space comes with ample provision for displaying a banner and required signage.
- Accessibility – The location of your clinic should be accessible with multiple commute options.
Simply put, demographics are the attributes of your target patients. Make it a point to check for the following attributes in your target demographic and make sure there is no shortage of the right demographic around your clinic site:
- Age. Ensure your practice is situated within an area featuring your target age group. For example, it would be a good idea to set up a paediatrics’ clinic in a popular residential location with young parents or an orthopaedics in a suburb with a more mature neighbourhood. Also, don’t forget to study if the population in that particular area is declining or growing and if it’s composition is likely to change. An area boasting expansion through increased migration for example, could provide an ideal demographic for a new healthcare centre.
- Average Income – Assessing the average household income of the local population will serve as a good indicator for you to decide your consultation fees. In case you have specific charges in mind, that could be on the higher side, make certain that you set shop in an upscale locality so that the patients could afford it.
Competition is another factor that usually goes unnoticed when doctors select a clinic space for their practice. A healthy competition does not necessarily hamper your practice but instead can also help to grow it. Read on to find out how!
- Doctors with similar specialisation v/s related specialisations – Having too many doctors in the vicinity with the same specialisation can restrict your practice, however, the presence of other clinics offering alternate specialities can assist your growth through mutual valuable referrals, or form a healthcare cluster which is likely to attract patients from faraway areas to access many services simultaneously.
- Young doctors v/s established doctors – Patients are often settled on their choice of doctors. Changing patient’s preferences can prove to be difficult and challenging especially for a young doctor establishing yourself in the market. Setting up a practice in the middle of too many established clinics could mean that you have to put in a lot of time and effort in making a place for yourself in an area with a bunch of trusted doctors. Given that patients are resistant to switching doctors, it might not be a very wise idea. Younger doctors are often more aggressive in marketing and should you set up a clinic in an area dominated by new practices, be prepared to put in time and resources in marketing.
A smart way to assess competition would be to visit Australia’s health directories website and see how many doctors are present in your targeted area.
The state of the building and its exterior also plays an important role in determining the location of the practice. Don’t forget to keep the following factors in mind when choosing the exact building for your clinic:
- Exterior. The exterior appearance is your first impression and should, therefore, project and maintain a manner which attracts and invite patients to the clinic.
- Parking. Maintaining adequate parking is vital, as patients will simply go elsewhere if their journey is frustrated by a lack of parking options. A secured or monitored parking area will provide an extra level of comfort for patients that their welfare is being considered both inside and outside the building.
- Elevator – If your clinic is above ground level, an elevator is a “must-have” feature. Full stop.
The interiors of your clinic are also very important and contribute enormously to a great patient experience.
- Aesthetics. The comfort and aesthetic appeal of the waiting area can’t be overestimated, as this will form the basis of the patient’s entire clinic experience. Adequate seating, proper ventilation and entertainment should be integrated, with, colours, textural graphics and children’s play areas helpful in retaining composure and attentiveness from patients who may be in varying levels of discomfort.
- Washroom. Your washroom should be well signed and easily accessible. A high level of cleanliness is imperative, and component functions should be kept in good working order.
- Size of the clinic. It is advisable to choose a clinic layout which is at least 20% larger of your current requirement in terms of size. When you practice becomes popular and you want to include more seating or perhaps another consulting room, the extra space will come in handy and will mitigate another relocation or an expensive refurbishment.
All of the above factors are important and need to be kept in mind while looking for a clinic space. It is also very likely that you might not find a place that scores well on all of the above criteria, so make sure that you make compromises wisely.
Make a short list of at least 2-3 spaces before making the final choice, rather than just picking one. This way you will not overlook any important aspect of your clinic’s location.
This article is adapted for general information from one originally published by DoctosPracto.
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