In the estate agent world, they say nothing is more important than location, location, location. Is this true when it comes to where you consult from?
The answer is… absolutely.
So, how should you go about choosing where you are going to be based?
Sometimes, clinicians can be in a bit of a rush, and don’t give this as much thought as they should do.
Here are a few things to consider…
When we are starting out in private practice we may be relieved to simply find any place that we can work from, and finally get started at.
If you’re a Doctor or Surgeon, it might mean going through the rigmarole of all the practicing privileges paperwork. If you are a Physio or Osteo, you might be sick of having to pound the pavements, trying to find a nice looking room without a rental that’s going to bankrupt you.
Never the less, don’t settle for the first thing you see and be too quick to sign up. I commonly see consultants and therapists who decide to hedge their bets by ‘opening up shop’ in several clinic locations, in the hopes that clinics will begin to fill up and then they will have a nice big ‘foot print’ of referrers. Yeah right.
This is not the way to do it, if you’re starting out or you’re part-time in private practice. Spreading yourself thin on the ground means that nobody really gets to know you are there. Showing up in clinic and giving enough ‘face time’ is more important than you would imagine. It’s a great way to build up cross referrals, even if they might not seem to be obvious in the first instance. Let people get to know you.
Don’t, be tempted to only book in a clinic at a venue if there is demand for it.
Whilst you might think you are saving money, here is why it often doesn’t work…
If you are an ad-hoc room user, rather than a clinician with a set clinic time slot, chances are you or A.N. Other, administrator will have to phone to see if the room can be available, then you have got to get back to the patient with potential time options. Meanwhile, the patient experience goes gently down the drain.
If you’re currently practicing in this way, take a long hard look at you figures.
What does the room cost? Could you consider setting yourself up at one location only – at the most profitable site so far- and shouldering the cost of booking out the entire session? This gives you the opportunity to work on building your presence there. That way, there is no messing around of patients, people and referrers get to know you and can depend on you’re being there if they want to refer to you.
Remember, that also a heck of a lot of time can be wasted in transition between morning and afternoon clinics.
If you experience any transport difficulties, it can also get stressful when you realise you are fifteen minutes late and you have not had any lunch. Timing is everything, and you need to have a proper think in terms of who you want to be treating and what time of day that may be more convenient for them.
For instance: If you like treating ‘postnatal mums’ with bladder problems, you have more chance of attracting them in the middle of the day, than if you set clinic times up that are going to clash with school runs. In contrast ‘city folk’ will often value greatly the opportunity to be seen first thing in the morning or into the early evening.
Be aware of your patient’s background.
If you are setting up shop near a geographical with a large Jewish population, you are not going to get much traction holding a clinic on a Friday afternoon, and City clinics may be dead on a Friday afternoon, when everyone prefers to be in the Slug and Lettuce.
Interestingly sometimes Monday clinics might not work so well for people, because it might take patients a day or so for patients to get their ducks in a row and activate their insurance. If you are finding yourself in this situation, try switching to Tuesday.
It’s very important that you make sure that you have all the ‘toys’ you need at your clinic site.
Do they have the right kind of MRI imaging? (If you need 3T MR, you will quickly be frustrated if all that’s on offer is 1.5 Tesla scanning.)
Does the clinic have a shockwave machine? Will they let you use it? Are they going to get huffy if you ask to use the ultrasonic sound scanning equipment that they deem as being only for the use of the radiologists?
Beware hidden costs when hospitals and clinics want to slap on a big percentage surcharge for use of their precious equipment. Ask them if you are allowed to take your own.
It’s also very important to find out what the expectations are in terms of booking appointments at these various locations.
Some hospital brands such as ‘Nuffield’ and ‘BMI’ will try to press you into using their booking system. Whilst this can have the advantage of you’re not being overlooked when someone phones in to make an inquiry, it doesn’t always mean that your patient gets the best experience, particularly if that person answering the phone doesn’t really understand the kind of patients that you need to be seeing. It can also be a bit of a faff if you then have to duplicate all of the hospital’s bookings into your own practice management system.
Decide carefully if this really is for you. Think about who is going to have to manage that, and whether it’s a good use of their time.
Does the clinic you are considering have the look and feel that would attract your patients?
It’s okay to be a bit of a snob and to turn your nose up at premises that have chipped MDF desks and Gaffer tape sealing up carpet junctions. It doesn’t exactly scream quality, does it?
And whilst we’re at it, what are the reception team like? Are they enthusiastic, warm and helpful, prepared to go that extra mile to find out something for the patient? Or do they exude the job satisfaction of a teenager contracted to wipe tables at Oktoberfest?
Finally, sometimes the commute really is worth it.
If you get to treat your ideal patients in lovely premises and they get to tell all their wonderful friend how fabulous you are, you are in the right place. If the clinic location has a ‘David Lloyd’ gym, a ‘Waitrose’ and and ‘LK Bennet’ store in close proximity, it’s a pretty good indicator that the local populous will be able invest in their health and will come to see you.
Don’t be too quick to make changes, but do open up your mind to the possibility of giving it a good bash for three months and showing your face at the clinic, each and every week.
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