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To buy or build - medical fit-out decisions

To buy or build – medical fit-out decisions

Deciding to open a new medical facility is an exciting prospect, but it also presents a dilemma. Should you design and build your very own medical fit-out or buy/lease an existing practice? Healthcare design company Evoke Projects examines the key considerations.

Medical fit-out feasibility study

Before committing to a lease or purchase of a new site, a feasibility study is a must. It enables an in-depth analysis of the healthcare design options and the opportunities and risks. A feasibility study will help you assess the true cost of each option and it reduces the chance of unexpected costs and surprises. At this stage, you can also identify any issues to be rectified during the healthcare fit-out construction or refurbishment phase.

A feasibility study is also worthwhile if you are weighing up a relocation versus a refurbishment of your current healthcare practice.

When considering your healthcare design, the team at Evoke Projects recommends adopting one of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: ‘begin with the end in mind’. Consider your business plan and future goals. Will you want to expand or sell your practice in future?

Location, location, location

For any business that services customers on-site, location is a critical decision. An existing practice will have data on current patient demographics. If you are considering building a new healthcare practice, detailed research will be needed on population size and demographics as well as growth forecasts for the area.

A ‘SWOT’ analysis is a useful way to evaluate the business potential of a location. Study the local competition and identify the Strengths and Weaknesses of your healthcare practice business plan compared to the competition. Evaluate the Opportunities and Threats to your new business.

The importance of convenience will depend on the type of medical service being offered. Specialists with little local competition may not need to focus on convenience. It will likely be more important for GPs and allied health professionals.  If convenience is a drawcard for your patients, access to retail shops, cafés, public transport and parking will score more highly in your feasibility study. Many health professionals will benefit from having pathology services and a hospital nearby.

Research local planning laws, the Private Health Facilities Act 2007, Building Code of Australia and Australian Standards to understand the requirements for a healthcare workplace design. There are many compliance factors around building a healthcare practice such as car parking, accessibility, environmental requirements for hazardous waste and infection control. Zoning is also important. A residential building may not have the appropriate zoning for a medical fit-out.

Designing and building your own healthcare practice

A shiny new medical fit-out gives you the opportunity to really make it your own. Your brand. Your ideas. It will be completely tailored to your patients and your business goals, and you will be unencumbered by an old healthcare fit-out. You can decide on the healthcare design of every metre of space from the ratio of car park to clinic space through to the waiting areas and treatment rooms. You can install the latest electrical, plumbing and ventilation systems. Of course, your new healthcare practice will not come complete with existing patient lists (unless it is replacing a previous facility) so marketing your business will be more important.

Buying/leasing and refurbishing an existing medical fit-out

The main advantage of refurbishing an existing medical fit-out will be inheriting an established patient list with income from day one. Operational costs will be known, and you can still make it your own with a healthcare practice refurbishment.

Other practice feasibility considerations

  • What type of medical practice will you be operating? The healthcare fit-out cost per square metre will vary between general and specialist medical, allied health and dental. A GP practice and specialist’s rooms are quite different in terms of the medical fit-out. Specialists are more likely to need equipment and treatment rooms that accommodate patients for lengthy appointments, while a GP practice will have higher turnover of patients and require a larger waiting area. Buying a facility that is set up contrary to your intended use could turn out to be more expensive than starting afresh and designing a new medical fit-out. The medical fit-out design should also be visually appealing to your patient ‘audience’.
  • Budget versus goals. A healthcare practice refurbishment will cost less in the short term than a rebuild or relocation. However, it is less likely to lead to new patients and revenue opportunities. Expansion potential may be limited.
  • Staff. The feasibility study of any medical practice design will need to consider staffing, both administration and clinicians. What skills are available locally and will you need to attract staff from other areas?

Choosing partners to make your medical fit-out happen

Your partners will include lenders, equipment suppliers, healthcare practice designers, the healthcare fit-out construction team and a project manager. As medical professionals, you will already know the value of choosing the right specialist for the task. Healthcare fit-outs are a specialist design field so connecting with an experienced team such as Evoke Projects will pay dividends in the short and long term.

The costs of a new medical fit-out can also be reduced by working with an expert who knows what works and what does not. Always pay particular attention to the design phase of a new medical fit-out because getting that right first time will be the ultimate in clever economy.

If you are considering a healthcare refurbishment or demolition and rebuild, Evoke Projects can conduct a site survey, space plan and give you a preliminary budget estimate.

Call the healthcare design experts at Evoke Projects on 1300 720 692 to find out more about the feasibility of your next medical fit-out or your healthcare refurbishment options.

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