Starting or expanding a direct primary care (DPC) practice involves many considerations. You will have to think about staffing and marketing your practice. If you’re converting to a DPC from a traditional practice, you’ll need to communicate with your patients as to the details of the transition. If you’re opening a new practice, there will be a lot of work to do to educate people in the community about the DPC model. One of the most important things to plan is where your DPC practice will be physically located.
Some things to consider in finding a practice location include:
- Office size. Direct care practices often need smaller spaces than traditional practices because patient loads are lower.
- Proximity to other healthcare providers. The location of referral practices and competition are considerations when determining a location for your own practice.
- Cost. Budget is a significant factor in your choice of locations. Undercapitalization is the number one reason for business failure, so make sure to have the proper capital to not only obtain office space but get your office up and running.
- Renting or buying. Renting, at least in the beginning, means more flexibility and less risk. You may decide the location is not right or that you need to expand in the future. Moving is a little less complicated when you rent a space.
- Traffic and parking. Consider whether your patients will have to deal with major traffic jams around your office and whether they will have plenty of available parking.
- Visibility. Direct care practices that are accessible and highly visible retain more patients and have an easier time attracting new ones.
- Convenience for patients. Determine your geographic target market. Will your new office location be convenient for them? Is it on a bus line? Is access into and out of the office easy?
- Convenience for you. You want your office close enough to your home so that you can get there quickly if needed. You also don’t want the added stress of traffic jams or challenges with getting in and out of your parking lot.
Once you’ve found a great location for your DPC practice, you’ll also need to consider how to set up and decorate the interior as well as any parts of the outside you can control, such as signage and landscaping. Maintaining a physical appearance that is in line with the branding message you are sending your target patients is important.
Timing is a consideration as well. Typically, the process of securing office space and filing paperwork takes approximately 6 months. It’s important that aspiring direct care doctors are prepared to devote that amount of time to starting their new practice.