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  • Location considerations

    Choosing the location to set up a new practice is an important business decision.

     

    Accessibility

    You want to make the travel and accessibility to your practice as easy as possible for your patients. The following should be considered:

    • Public transport availability
    • Car parking within the practice
    • If parking is not available in the practice car park, how far are the nearest parking options and what are the potential costs and time limits?

    Health care services benefit from being in close proximity to other medical and allied health services. This provides convenience for patients who may be required to undertake medical tests from a range of medical services, and in marketing terms it makes your practice more appealing to patients. For example, a general practice located close to a pharmacist is convenient for patients to fill scripts. An orthopaedic surgeon located close to radiology services is convenient for patients who may have a degree of immobility. Many practitioners may also need to be located reasonably close to hospitals for ease of access when performing duties as a visiting medical officer. Ideally, practices should also be ground floor level or accessible by a lift, as stairs will be a deterrent for many patients for a variety of reasons, including patients requiring a wheelchair and parents/carers with prams.

    Find a local map and locate all existing health and medical services. You will often find they are close to each other. When establishing a new practice, consider locations central to the majority of other services. For an existing practice, ask yourself, 'How would people get from one service to another? Is access to services easy?'

    Visibility

    Your patients must be able to find you easily. Particularly in the case of general practice, a location in view of passing traffic can increase your profile and boost accessibility as potential patients will be aware of you. Even with an excellent location, good signage is needed.

    Improving your practice

    In setting up your practice you will have researched and planned using the following steps:

    1. Identify and categorise your present skills/experience and interests.
    2. Consider the patient population that would benefit from your skills and experience.
    3. Identify where those patient populations are.
    4. Choose the location for your practice to match the potential patients.


    Consider the following:

    Demographics

    A fundamental principle of market research is knowing who your customers are. Consider the total population and the size of each age group. This basic set of statistics available from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (see links) will inform you how many young children, teenagers, young adults, families and elderly make up the population. This will give you an indication of the suitability between your type of practice and the patient population you want to provide a service to, and the local population. Is there alignment?

    Town planning

    Contact the local council for information about new developments and incoming new businesses. Also check the proximity and size of the central business district. Are there other desirable services nearby (supermarkets, cafes etc.) - this may help increase visibility and also help the practice to be seen as an integral part of the community.

    Practitioner density

    A simple check of the internet will give an idea of how many practitioners service the local area and their field of medical practice (note that many practices no longer advertise in the local phone book). Your Medicare Local may also provide some useful information regarding existing services in your area.

    Backup services in the area

    Contact the Medicare Local, local public hospital or community health provider to establish the allied and other community support services available in the area. Who provides them and how often?