For a doctor, choosing the location of the clinic is a decision as important as deciding the specialized stream of study. A good location for your clinic can take your medical practice to newer heights, while an average location could keep you in oblivion. Given the criticality location plays, it is very important to keep in mind several factors before finalizing your clinic’s location.
So to help you out, we’ve compiled a list of important criteria that a good clinic location must have. In all likelihood, there will be no single location that scores well on all the following factors; so you should try to weigh in all these factors before arriving at a decision.
Location is perhaps the most obvious factor with multiple repercussions on the success of your clinic. However, there are lots of aspects about the location that go unnoticed which are as follows:
- Commute time: A very old proverb rightly says ‘Time is money’; and this proverb can’t be more apt for a doctor whose time is the most valuable considering that he saves lives. The location of your clinic should be such that you spend minimum time in commute which will give you more time for your patients and yourself.
- Locale: Make sure your clinic is set up in an area that has a decent reputation among your target patients. Setting up a clinic in a substandard area could get your patients disinterested while setting up a clinic in a way too posh area could keep your customers away thinking your services are too expensive. Your consultation fees can be a good metric to help you determine the apt area for your practice.
- Neighborhood – Neighborhood (adjacent and nearby shops and offices) play a very important role in building an early impression of your clinic. A doctor’s clinic is expected to be an absolutely clean place which stands for hygiene and good health – make sure your the area surrounding your clinic also reflects this, with minimal pollution (noise, air or water) or litter the neighborhood. For example, having a clinic near a mechanic’s workshop could compromise cleanliness, and your image.
- Proximity to Hospitals – Having hospitals in the immediate vicinity could turn out to be a boon if you practice a highly specialized field of medicine. The presence of these hospitals might attract patients who are looking for an expert second opinion on health matters. However, if you are a general practitioner, you might want to consider not setting up a clinic in a hospital dominated area as you might take some extra time in establishing yourself.
- Visibility – Ensure that your clinic is easily visible to passers-by so that they can recall it when they are in need of a doctor. A space with prime visibility might cost you a little more than a clinic in a basement or perhaps in a small by-lane, but, think of it as an investment in marketing your clinic which will give your long term results. While you’re at it, don’t forget to check if the space comes with ample provision for displaying a banner and required signage.
- Accessibility – The location of your clinic should be very accessible with lots of commute options from across the city / town. Having a practice in the geographic center of the city would be ideal as long as it meets the remaining criteria.
Simply put, demographics are the attributes of your target patients. Make it a point to check for the following attributes in your target demographics and make sure there is no shortage of the right demographics in your vicinity:
- Age – Based on your expertise make sure that your practice is situated between the right age group. For example, it would be a good idea to set up a paediatrics’ clinic in a popular residential location while it might not be such a good idea to set one in an industrial location. 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. For example, it could be a very smart move in the long run to set up a clinic in an upcoming location that will see a lot of migration.
- Average Income – The average household income of the population in the neighborhood 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 sure 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 can also help to grow it. Read on to know how.
- Doctors with similar specialization v/s related specializations – Having too many doctors in the vicinity with the same specialization can more often than not hamper your practice as the patients in the neighborhood have too many options. On the other hand, it is very beneficial to have doctors practicing other fields of medicine in the nearby vicinity as they could send valuable referrals along your way. Also, having a plethora of specialized doctors in a particular neighborhood could also develop the particular area into a medical zone thereby attracting patients from faraway areas.
- Young doctors v/s established doctors – 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. However, beware that most of the younger doctors are very aggressive in marketing and should you set up a clinic in an area dominated by young doctors, be prepared to put in time and resources in marketing.
A smart way to assess competition would be to visit India’s largest doctor search website and see how many doctors are present in your targeted vicinity. This will give you a comprehensive idea about the competition in that 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 you choose the exact building for your clinic:
- Exterior – The exterior appearance is one of the first thing that strikes your patients and makes an early impression for the consultation. Make sure that the exterior of the building is not too shabby and crumbling as it is an indicator that the interior too might be just as shabby.
- Parking – If the location of your clinic is going to be in a city or in a popular location make sure you have ample parking for your visitors. Not having adequate parking can turn off patients especially who drive a car. If possible, employ a security personnel who can also assist patients with finding parking spots.
- Elevator – Having an elevator is very essential especially if your clinic is not on the ground level. An elevator will ensure that your patients do not have problems in entering your clinic. There have been instances of orthopedic doctors setting up a practice on the second floor of a building without an elevator, who later realized that patients with leg injuries could not access their clinic.
The interiors of your clinic are also very important when it comes to providing a great patient experience. Here are some factors that you should consider from the point of view of interiors:
- Aesthetics – From the time a patient sets foot in your clinic till the time he is called for examination is very crucial in making an impression. Make sure you provide adequate seating, proper ventilation and entertainment in the form of magazines or even a television. In case you are a paediatrics, see if you can dedicate a small area for children’s play and provide some toys that could keep the kids busy while they are waiting for their turn. Informative charts and general healthcare advice also seems to keep patients busy during the wait time.
- Washroom – It is very important for obvious reasons to provide a clean washroom for your patients. This will not only help visitors in bearing long wait times but will also be useful for patients who might constantly need a washroom.
- Size of the clinic – It is always advisable to go for a shop that 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 cabin, the extra space will come in handy. If not, then you would have to start searching for a bigger clinic to accommodate your needs.
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 your make compromises wisely. .
Bonus Tip: Make a short list of atleast 2-3 spaces before making the final cut, rather than just picking one among a dozen. This way you will not overlook any important aspect of your clinic’s location.