starting an independent clinic

The secret to building a unique independent clinic

Some doctors run a private practice that has this mysterious touch. Their reputation seems to be amplified by the way they set up their clinic. Let’s look at the small and big choices behind this uniqueness so you can make your own rooms and practice stand out from the competition. If you are starting an independent clinic, take a moment to go over these basics.

starting an independent clinic

The secret to building a unique private practice

Kris Borgraeve - Co-founder Digital Practice

Kris Borgraeve

April 20, 2022

The real magic of interior design for doctors

rooms for doctors

Rooms for doctors come in many sizes, shapes and styles. If you are a tenant, you can go for a big restyling and renovation, or you may have limited your personal touch to a layer of paint.

A closer look at some of the remarkable fit-outs we walk through, as we help leading doctors build a strong brand experience, teaches us that:

  • Corporate interior design for a medical suite can position you well…or it can work against you. Your logo, the walls, decoration elements, your reception desk, all become part of what patients remember, feel and think as they walk in. But if you overdo it in this area, some patients may think that you charge excessive fees if you are able to afford a typical doctor lifestyle and maintain a high-profile office. So take it easy when you tick those boxes with the designer team and think about what breathes quality and puts your patient at ease.
  • If you are starting an independent clinic, your rooms and your waiting room, in particular, have an important role to play: Reassuring the patient. Making them feel comfortable. Some doctors and surgeons will use the expression ‘homely’ when they describe the vibe they are trying to create in their rooms. Again, we don’t want to have a dog, a bottle of wine, a couch and a flatscreen tv with a remote control to become your new waiting room props, but creating a homely vibe that puts people at ease is definitely useful.
  • Lighting is crucial when you create an atmosphere. Depending on the amount of natural daylight entering your rooms and your waiting room, you want to explore warm light sources rather than cold light sources. Typical office lighting solutions will not create the homely and reassuring atmosphere you may be after.
  • Electronic decluttering is one of the best things you can do for your environment. If patients are looking at a pile of computer screens, printers and office accessories, they will respect you for your impressive admin priorities. But will they feel more at ease? Chances are that a reception desk with a decluttered vibe will allow your team to focus more on the human connection.
  • Acoustics is an often underestimated aspect of interior design and corporate branding. The way sounds reverberate in your room will have a triple effect on how people feel. First, people will not easily understand what you are saying and vice versa. Secondly, everyone in the room will speak louder to be heard and understood which creates more disruption and disturbance. And thirdly, poor acoustics make us nervous and more stressed, which is the opposite of what you want in medical rooms. Carpets, low ceilings and plenty of soft items on the walls can help you compensate for poor acoustics in case the shape of your rooms is not ideal.

A women’s health clinic such as The Woom in Perth, Western Australia, ticks all the boxes. Built to the highest standards, the clinic offers a warm, welcoming vibe in line with the online brand.

Smart ways to make your practice look better

starting a private clinic

Some doctors run their practice with a 100% focus on their core service: delivering babies, replacing hips, removing brain tumours. And that in itself deserves the respect of large numbers of patients and referring general practitioners. But in today’s private health industry, competition, brand positioning and reputation are also at play. If you are starting a private clinic in this day and age, you need a smart vision to create the success that you are after. 

Patients talk about the outcomes of their treatment, and they also mention the human aspect. That includes how they felt when they attended your rooms for a consultation, to discuss tests or diagnostic results, or to prepare for and follow up on treatment.

Kris Borgraeve - Co-founder Digital Practice
Kris Borgraeve | Co-ounder Digital Practice

"Take the time to thoroughly inspect how patients would feel as they sit in your waiting room or your consultation room. What are the things you can change to create a better lasting feeling of trust and rapport when patients come to see you."

The mind is a curious thing. As we sit in a waiting room to see you (the doctor), we are not in the same mood compared to when we go and buy a present for our best friend. Many patients are going through an emotional process and a clean, clutter-free environment emphasizes one of your key qualities: precision and concentration. Patients will appreciate a clean, decluttered waiting and consultation room simply because it validates your ability to be logical and well organised. 

The way patients look at your team

organising your team

Another crucial aspect of running a medical practice is organising your team so it works together like a well-oiled machine. 

Teamwork, team spirit and company culture are not always high on the agenda when I speak with doctors and surgeons. The individual journey to achieve your position may be one of the underlying causes.

Kris Borgraeve - Co-founder Digital Practice
Kris Borgraeve | Co-founder Digital Practice

"When someone walks into a consultation, are you always aware of the impact this may have on your patient? Does your team have clear rules about when to call, knock or walk in? The impact this has on your patient satisfaction rates is massive."

The quality of your teamwork at the practice also creates an atmosphere. Sensitive patients will pick up on any tensions and will know it when your team works in an atmosphere of respect, care and mutual understanding.

If you have a siloed team, patients will sense that too and it will affect the way they feel about the genuine care you promised them on your website or in your consultation. Doctors who are starting an independent clinic often overlook the human component and it’s great to include it on your business checklist as you prepare to get started.

Going back to the example we visited above, The Woom puts the team front and centre so the patient gets to know the doctors even before their first consultation.

starting a private practice

The other important dimension in healthcare: time

appointment setting tips for doctors

One of the big topics in negative Google reviews for doctors is time management. It’s tempting to look at your practice as a business that mainly serves your own purpose, which is seeing patients and getting things done.

But the way a patient talks about time at your practice requires another set of values.

Kris Borgraeve - Co-founder Digital Practice
Kris Borgraeve | Co-founder Digital Practice

"To the patient, time means something else than what it means for you as a doctor. Have you really taken the time to listen? Have you created a safe space to connect and make this patient feel worth your time and attention?"

Positive feedback for doctors often comes from smart practice management systems. The most useful appointment setting tips for doctors will mention the following success habits:

  • Create clarity about the types of appointments: short ones or longer ones, appointments that may incur interaction with other team members who may be occupied, etc.
  • Create clear boundaries when delays occur so the next patient can be notified.
  • When delays are pushing back appointments, have systems in place so your reception team can call and notify the next patient.
  • Put in place smart triage systems – or people who can make autonomous decisions – to define what is acute, urgent and important…so you are not interrupting consultations for emergencies that turn out to be not urgent at all, later down the track.
  • Buffer time is gold! If it helps you absorb delays, great. If it helps you to take a deep breath, have a chat with your team or simply recharge your batteries, great. The value of a 10 minute-buffer between appointments will shine through in everything you do afterwards.

This ties in with your online presence, your brand promise if you want to use a marketing term. What patients expect after having discovered your website, should be a match with the actual experience.

When it comes to explaining an unrushed approach to medical consultations, these doctors are doing an amazing job on their web pages:

Your brand as a well-organised private practice

brand promise

Having a well-oiled system in place to organise consultations is critical. It becomes part of your practice as a brand. If your practice is well known for its clinical expertise and the performance of doctors in theatre, that is obviously fantastic. 

But if your practice is also known for organisational chaos, complicated processes and a stressed-out team, then that will affect your practice too.

Kris Borgraeve - Co-founder Digital Practice
Kris Borgraeve | Co-founder Digital Practice

"When we run a business, inspecting it from the outside is difficult. That’s even more true for you as a doctor because your attention is required in this crucial field: helping patients. It is perfectly normal to develop a weak spot, which is the way your practice is organised."

At Digital Practice, we don’t interfere with our customers’ practice management decisions. But when we design, develop and publish your brand promise together, on your medical website or on social media, we ask the right questions, to inspect what patients actually experience when they choose you as their trusted specialist or surgeon. 

More on brand positioning and how to build a genuine story for your brand that attracts patient leads through Google Search, in these other “Grow!” articles:

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Bring us on board as your partner

private practice builders

We are private practice advisors when it comes to business development and in a way, we are also private practice builders. That’s because we co-create your online profile from the moment you are starting an independent clinic, so you attract the right type of patients, staff and business partners. Even your referral base will change once you improve your online profile. So if you are in that phase where you are considering a practice revamp or a rebranding operation, book your free 1:1 consultation so we can help you grow.

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