How to Choose the Perfect Location for Your Private Practice
Whether you’re starting out in Private Practice, or have been working part-time for a while now, it’s important to have a really good think about where you’re working, and whether you could ‘do better’.
In the ‘bad old days’, some private hospitals would financially incentivise Doctors to work at their sites, hoping to reap the benefits of investigations and procedures. The Competitions and Marketing Authority put pay to that, and for many Clinicians that meant a big old shock when they found themselves having to cough up for secretarial and room costs.
Today, you have fund where you work, and your team around you. And so you should, because this also means you get to choose your location and your staff.
So, what makes a good location to work at, and what are the pitfalls to avoid?
1) More is not more. Less is more.
Doctors and surgeons have a bad habit of seeding themselves many clinical locations, in the hope that a bigger footprint will mean more referrals. You’ve heard me talking about why this is a mistake, and 2, possibly 3 locations, is the absolute max if you’re a full timer. If you’re scattered about, it takes forever for people to get to know you, because you’re never around to ‘get known’.
So, focus on your first site, get really well known there, and ONLY consider a second site. If you really need to. I only work at two sites, and the only reason I work at a second site is because a surgical colleague I work very closely with, works at the second site. If he didn’t, you can bet that I’d be 100% of my time at the Shard.
2) The site has to work for you, and it has to work for the profitability.
It’s important that you don’t spend hours and hours commuting to your clinic, but equally, just because there’s a BMI or Nuffield around the corner from where you live, it doesn’t mean that you should necessarily work there. I’m in Greenwich, 1 mile from Blackheath where there is a BMI hospital, but instead, I choose to go to the Shard which is an HCA hospital.
Why? I think the facilities are better, and very importantly, being in and around the city is where many of my weekend warriors work, and they want to see someone who is convenient to them (and not the other way around).
There might be families I could see at the BMI hospital, but they’re not really going to be my kind of patients, and you should be wondering the same about your clinical site. If you are a dermatologist, and you specialise in eczema, you might want to where the kiddos are in the day time, but if you’re a psychiatrist specialising in professionals battling addictions, you might want to be bang in the middle of square mile.
Finally, if you’re a surgeon working in plastics, you could take advantage of the Hatten Garden effect, and hang out where all the other surgeons are, in the Harley Street area. If you’re going to take advantage of the ‘this is where patients come looking for a plastic surgeon’ effect, the caveat is, you must find a great way to differentiate yourself from the other surgeons. If this sounds hard, it’s actually not, but it does take time and effort to establish your niche, and then you need simply need to put some effort into marketing that niche.
3) Does your team really need to be on site with you?
When it comes to building a Private Practice team, and by team, I mean medsecs and practice managers, medical transcriptionists, medical billing specialists etc., you can get stuck with tradition and want them to ‘on-site’. For most clinicians, however, it’s in your financial best interests to have your team working remotely, because these days you’re not going to get a room for your medsec for free, and many hospitals are actively discouraging on-site staff. There are exceptions; if you’re practice is meteorically successful, you might want to have a team member to take the patient off to one side to book those tests or theatre dates, but it will cost you, so beware that you’re not doing it purely ‘for the company’, or because you’re still addicted to working with paper.
In the digital age, there is no reason why your entire team can’t work off-site, as long as where they are working means your set up is GDPR compliant.
Even if your beloved medsec doesn’t want to work from home, there are locations other than at the hospital which are likely to be less expensive to run.
4) What do you really desire for your clinic, and what are the deal breakers?
Ask yourself, if you had carte blance to decide what your clinic/theatres/treatment facilities you’d like in terms of your Private Practice, what would they be?
For instance, I want 3T MRI scanning facilities that can do T2 mapping sequences, and I want top-notch radiologists, who are used to looking at FAI in the way that I do.
I definitely wouldn’t consider working in a clinical site where the décor is 80’s peach, and the hospital didn’t invest in the training of their nursing and reception staff.
It’s easy to overlook these details when someone is dangling the keys to a Da Vinci surgical robot under your nose. The problem is, if you fail to attend to how your location looks and feels to patients, they’ll be put off from coming to see you about their unhappy prostate in the first place.
5) Beware of what you’re promised.
When you join a private hospital or clinic, you might be introduced to a ‘consultant liaison officer’, and you may be told that you’ll be given some help with marketing in the form of setting up ‘talks for GPs’ etc. The problem is, that whilst you might get lucky and gain a few referrals from these, it’s never going to be enough; after all, there are hundreds of clinicians they have to look after.
It’s far, far better to learn how to market your practice so, you have ownership over the patient flow to you.
If you need help figuring out where the best place is for you to grow your practice, or if you need help with getting together a marketing strategy for your Private Practice, get in touch. I’m at firstname.lastname@example.org
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