Whether you are opening a new practice or running a well-known O&P company, the right location for your business plays a role in keeping a good business flow. However, an easily accessible location is not the only deciding factor for a positive patient experience.
“While the right address is important, the quality of the facility is at least equally, if not more, important,” Clint McKinley, chief executive officer and corporate counsel at Ability Prosthetics and Orthotics, told O&P Business News. “At Ability, we lease only Class “A” medical space and design our facilities with the patient in mind. Our practice model is patient-centric.”
Secure the right location
When starting a new practice or opening a new location for your already established practice, it is important to not only have an easily accessible and professional building, but the area in which you set up your facility must be known, or familiar to the general population of the town or city of the practice, McKinley said.
“A point of reference that doesn’t require the patient to have to search to find our facility is often key to the area we choose,” he said. “This can include a particular area of town, a business or a marker, such as a common cross road.”
The visibility and accessibility from major highways are two factors to look into when looking at locations since many patients travel from outlying areas to receive care. Researching travel patterns will help show how much traffic goes through the area throughout the day and is essential to cater to patients’ preferences.
Once the demographic research is done and the area in question proves to be a good fit for the market, the next step is to enlist the help of a local commercial realtor to find the best properties in the area. Letters of intent are presented to potential landlords, and, when an agreement is reached, the lease is negotiated and signed. If working with an architect, lease terms and upfit allowances should be discussed. The architect prepares drawings for the space after the lease is signed and presents them to the landlord, who helps choose a contractor to complete the upfit.
“Whether it’s a rental or a purchase, it’s a significant investment in terms of time researching, dollars spent setting up the physical plant as well as the resources to market it,” Michael Oros, CPO, president of Scheck and Siress, told O&P Business News. “At the end of the process you want to make sure it’s done well and it’s rewarding.”
Consider the patient
The patient population is the most important factor to consider when choosing the location for your business. Spend time researching areas that are most appealing for patients to travel to, and find the current trends for creating the best patient experience.
“Invest the time and do your homework. Look at other existing facilities. Speak to patients and find out what they like and don’t like about their past experiences. Be open-minded and objective when getting feedback,” McKinley said. “The environment for attracting referrals and patients is becoming increasingly competitive and the modern O&P practice must be designed around the patient and not the practitioner.”
“There isn’t one ‘best area’ to set up an O&P business,” Oros said. “We have offices in a variety of settings, such as urban facilities located either in a hospital or in adjacent professional buildings, stand alone buildings in the suburbs and condos that are part of multi-unit complexes. [When choosing a location,] you need to think about the patient population you intend to serve and what the best way is for them to have access to your facility.” — by Casey Murphy
Disclosure: Oros is employed at Scheck and Siress, Oakbrook Terrace, Ill. McKinley is employed at Ability Prosthetics and Orthotics, Gettysburg, Pa.