Session 15 – Chicken and the Egg of Site Selection Data – Podcast

Session 15 – Chicken and the Egg of Site Selection Data – Podcast

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Session 15. Chicken and the Egg of Site Selection – Podcast

By Scott McDonald

Hello, my name is Scott McDonald and welcome to the Perfect Place to Put a Practice Podcast.

In this session we are going to discuss an important point about demographic analysis: why are you doing it?  I mention the metaphor of the chicken and the egg because it presents an interesting problem that I had when I first started this  Many doctors thought that they already knew what they wanted to know about an area’s demographics.  In fact, they did not.  Many assumed that if you just got the facts about a location, you would have sufficient information to make a decision on whether or not to put a practice in a given location.  Some assumed that if there was little or no competition, the site would be desirable.  Others thought that if the population was wealthy, the location would obviously be viable.  After a fairly short time, it became obvious that my good Clients needed a little input on what, in fact, they wanted to know.

                So, this experience illustrated to me that there are really two things that the doctors I was worked with wanted to know.  Unfortunately, they tend to be mutually exclusive (hence the chicken and the egg). To put it succinctly, we could provide a doctor with the answer to whether a site was viable BUT to do so, we had to know something about what type of practice he or she wanted to set-up.  I am sure that you have seen it before: two offices will open right next door to each other. One will thrive, the other will shrivel and die.  It is more than merely practice management and promotions that would make the difference and to determine the practice fate. It had to do with the practice model.  Did the practice offer to the potential patient base what it wanted and needed?  Some doctors believe that the public will always want what the doctor is offering.  Some assume this means discounts.  Others think that full services including specialty care is what they have in mind.  Many consider the Taj Mahal to be optimum.  Others are looking at doing esoteric clinical services while some think a full range of cosmetic procedures are best.  Practices that cater to pediatric patients will need an entirely different demographic character in the base population than those who want to offer geriatric care. What the doctors were REALLY asking is: will a practice of the practice model I want do well in this location?

                Another priority for analysis also came up.  What many doctors really want is an idea of where within a large geographic area they can find a place that will support their ideal practice model?  What they want to know is what would the Best Sites be to consider a particular type of practice.  To do this, we will often take into account different factors that the evaluation of viability.  We have to look more to the referral base (if there is one needed), transportation accessibility, and psychographics.  In short, it is a different process we have to undertake that will answer a completely different set of statistics.

                In the first case in which a doctor is trying to determine the viability of a particular practice model in a specific location, I developed the Community Overview Report.  Once again, if it is a specific location that you wish to contrast with another site, we can work the numbers to provide a statistically rational explanation of why one place will work better than another.  Again, this is the report that will answer that question.  In the second case, where we are determining the best locations for a practice model in a large geographic setting, I created the Best Sites Report.  It will give you five potential sites that will best match the practice model or demographic priorities of the doctor.  A common problem we have is when a doctor will say, “I don’t care about priorities.  I can go anywhere.  Just find me a place to practice!”  It doesn’t work because we have no standard of measurement to contrast one location from another.  The doctor’s comment presumes that there is one standard against which all practices can be identified.  And, the truth is, there is not.  In almost 30 years of looking at placed to practice, it becomes increasingly clear that only a very few locations exist in the U.S. that will be right for everyone.  What most professionals want is to find a site that will be “right” for them.

                We have found that the doctors who benefit most from demographic and psychographic analysis have thought about what they want to achieve in the end.  Therefore, knowing the destination you want to reach is paramount to getting help in site selection, evaluation, or ANY service by an outside professional.  It is wise to remember that as a doctor and practice owner, you own the car.  All you are really doing is inviting someone into your vehicle to act as chauffeur.  But at the end of the trip, you are still going to get your keys back while assuming that you are closer to your destination.

                One last note:  it isn’t always easy knowing the exact destination you have in mind.  That is why we offer a telephone consultation.  It is intended to give you a little time with a person who knows the Country well, a great deal about the factors you need to know in determining a site, and a bit of patience as well.  Even if the point is just to confirm what you already assume, it can be a big comfort to have someone with whom you can share your thoughts. 

                This is Scott McDonald.  Check out our services on

And thanks for listening.