medical fitouts

How to avoid the pitfalls in medical fit-outs?

What is the connection between the success of your private practice and the quality of your interior design? Do patients pay attention? Does it bring you more patients or is it a waste of money? I wanted to learn more, so I spoke with Mike Watson at Design Doctors Australia. And did I learn a few things!
medical fitouts

How to avoid the pitfalls in medical fit-outs?

Kris Borgraeve - Co-founder Digital Practice

Kris Borgraeve

January 18, 2022

The secrets of interior design for medical practices

medical design and interiors

As an ambitious doctor in an independent medical practice, you are running a business. And when you are wearing that business hat, the look and feel of your practice matters. But does it make a difference?

Mike Watson at Design Doctors Australia develops fitouts for medical centres and dental surgeries across Australia and his data confirms what we feel in the digital realm: first impression matters, it starts online and it continues when patients book a consult.

What is a suitable space for a medical practice?

design for medical suites

The conversions we have with our customers start with a strategic assessment of your target audience. Whether you have paid attention to this aspect of your practice or not, you are working in a specific catchment area and you depend on the people who live there. Some specialists will tell me that patients will travel thousands of kilometres to see them. For the record, we help many local customers here in Western Australia where you could live in Broome and travel 2,048 km to Perth to see your obesity surgeon, orthopaedic surgeon or gynaecologist.

As real estate salespeople will tell you: Location, location. So the choice of the actual building, the street and the suburb you choose for your clinic, are actually the very first aspect of your brand simply because that choice will reflect on how people perceive you. The best doctor in town will probably not go and sit at the end of a dark smelly laneway in a funky warehouse next to an indoor skatepark.

What I learned from Mike is this amazingly simple takeaway message: Go for a rectangle! If the floorplan of the medical suite they offer you have all kinds of interesting corners and curves, which makes it look amazing in the real estate brochure, walk away!

We now know that the curves and L-shapes only create a waste of space.

medical fitouts Mike Watson
Mike Watson, Design Doctors Australia

"The secret of the space is the shape. The most efficient shape is a rectangle with a ratio of 3:1 without any columns"

Of course, there are many considerations to take into account as you explore your options:

  • How close to the hospital is the building?
  • What is the travel distance for your team and for yourself?
  • How is the location seen by the patients?
  • How about parking facilities nearby?
  • What is the cost per square meter?
  • Does it cater for your needs, 1 or 2 consultation rooms or more? Special equipment?
  • What are the options you have with this space in terms of choosing the finishes, making changes, altering the layout?

Just like you wouldn’t start building your own website on a lazy Sunday afternoon as a specialist doctor ( you wouldn’t, would you?), you would probably also leave the strategic work that goes into creating an awesome medical fit-out to an expert like Mike Watson, right?

Will a quality medical fit-out get you more patients?

Quality medical fit-out

We intuitively know that the professionalism of a medical practice matters, and that it starts with how the premises look. Now the big question is: where does it stop? Again, it will depend on the target audience, the suburbs you serve and the general consumer habits of your future patients. If they buy their bread in a luxury bakery and sit in comfortable luxury chairs with dazzling design fabrics for their afternoon tea … do you want to assume that your broken flywire door and wobbly waiting room chairs will go unnoticed? We don’t want to take that risk with our reputation as an excellent surgeon, do we?

The perception of your service, no matter how long the list of credentials, titles and experiences on your resume, starts with the brand.

In our “Grow!” magazine, we cover almost every aspect of brand positioning as a doctor in private practice and the content on your website, the first impression patients get through your web design, or the presence of quality videos, are just a few examples of this vast area of expertise that we love to share with our customers.

medical fitouts Mike Watson
Mike Watson, Design Doctors Australia

"If it looks terrible you can expect terrible service so you are probably not going to go in there."

This is where we love a synergetic dance between the digital brand (yes, the ones we create with and for our customers) and the brick-and-mortar reality of your private practice.

An inspiring example of this dance is The Woom, a specialist women’s health clinic integrating gynaecology, fertility consultancy, and general women’s health services as well as allied health under one roof.

medical fitouts

Changes to the practice layout because of covid

adapting medical practice for covid

Depending on where you work, this may already be a reality or it may be something that slowly permeates into the reality of the private practice: a new way to look at your fit-out because of the pandemic.

Mike Watson’s experience shows that many doctors and specialists have already approved changes to their existing practice layout. Simply because it is now one of the new best practices to avoid people walking up and down the same corridors.

Just like we got used to shops making a clear distinction between the entrance and exits, the practice of the future will also have to adapt and make minor changes.

The connection between your fitout and your online brand

brand creation for doctors

Consistency is the keyword here. The entire patient experience can be described as a brand experience and of course, this is not how we have traditionally looked at the medical profession, let alone at the reality of getting a diagnose or undergoing surgery.

Yet, in private health, with a lot of emphasis on the service experience, and doctors being keen to live up to the expectations of their patients to remain competitive, brand positioning and brand experience are two increasingly important realities when you build a strong private practice.

  • Brand positioning: You could say that this is the promise. When patients do a first Google search and you have optimised your online presence so they find you, the next important phase is to make sure your message is clear, visually compelling and accurate so your visitors are converted into leads.
  • Brand experience: This is what the patient remembers. Of course, we know that the essence of any type of medical treatment is the medical outcome. Yet, quite often, and assuming that many doctors get excellent clinical outcomes in their respective fields every day, reviews are critical when the service experience, the communication process or the team’s attitude, tone or appearance were not entirely satisfying. This is where attractive, stylish, clean and convenient premises populated by friendly and professional staff, can make a big difference.
Let's meet

Get strategic about your brand

medical branding

If you are thinking of rebranding or making a strategic change to your private practice, why not start with the strategic work first? Let’s discuss your target patients, the competition and brand positioning to optimise your competitive power in your catchment area, and explore the foundation for your brand in the digital and in the brick-and-mortar environment you are about to (re)create. We look forward to working with you!

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