Session 40 – Pediatric Practices
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Pediatric Practices. Successful pediatric practices, whether pedodontists or pediatricians, depend upon understanding their target market of children. This session deals with how age groupings in the pediatric market will change the way that practices grow and choose locations. If you are in a practice that is concerned about age, this session is vital.
Hello. This is Scott McDonald and welcome to the Perfect Place to Put a Practice Podcast.
In today’s program, we are going to discuss the demographics of pediatric practices. I am including in this some factors that will be important for orthodontic offices. Nevertheless, the idea is to discuss the necessary demographic character of locations that will host practices dedicated to serving children. This would include pediatric dentists, pediatricians, and all medical pediatric practices.
It is vital to note that while it is obvious that one must find locations that have large numbers of children to be patients, these children are not the “clients” of a practice. That would be defined as their parents and guardians. The likelihood that these parents will choose to take their child to a practice specializing in pediatric services will depend upon several factors including their adult’s income, age, educational attainment, and proximity to the site. In short, just because there are many children in an area does not mean that the practice will necessarily be successful. These demographic characteristics of the adults will determine the viability of the site far more than those of the children. But that does not mean that the demographics of the children can be ignored.
As an example, we can divide children up by age grouping. The infant age group is usually between birth and about 2 years of age. The young children group would run from 2 to about 4. Middle childhood would be between 5 and 9 years of age. Older childhood would be considered between 10 and 14. These ages are not set in stone but they do represent natural physical progressions that manifest themselves in different clinical needs. Interestingly, the age of children often correlates to the age or parenting situation or profile of their parents. In the days when mothers had four children, this wasn’t true. But if a mother has one or two children, both aged close together, her parenting profile will change as her child or children age.
As an aside, political correctness would say that I should say “mothers-and-fathers.” The truth is that while there are fathers who are involved in parenting, mothers continue to be the primary decision makers by a wide margin on choosing practices, approving doctors, and following through with treatment.
All this means that in order to choose a good place to practice, the first step is to consider potential demand for services. This is best done by looking at a drive-time radius or radii. We look at the total population and then multiply by the percentage of children in the various age groups. As an example, if you have 25,000 people in a radius and they have 6% of the population at 5-to-9, you would multiply 0.06 (which is another way of expressing 6%) by 25,000. The answer comes out to 1,500 potential patience in that radius.
The second step is to do a quick gut check. Can the practice survive only upon 5-to-9 year olds? Will you want to provide services to older or younger children? It does without saying that children who are 2 years old need different care from a 10 year old. But just as important is to realize that the reasons parents taken their children to treatment varies with the age of the child. At under 2, there are various inoculations and tests that a 10 year old would typically not need. For pedodontists, most deciduous teeth have not erupted while 10 year olds are preparing for many adult teeth and might be getting ready for orthodontic care. Therefore, it makes a big difference what kinds of services to promote, what image to portray, and what locations will be best. Sites close to schools might work well for school age children but might not work as well for parents of younger children in terms of the convenience factor.
The third step is to consider the demographic character of parents. This includes their financial situation. Doubtless everyone listening knows that there are myriad public assistance programs for children is dramatically varying levels of compensation and services covered. That is why this step is really to determine the type of practice model that would serve the Client best. Some practices prefer not to deal with Medicaid patients (or the state aid programs that serve the poor) because compensation CAN be quite low. But working with certain socioeconomic groups also come with costs that are non-financial. I won’t say much more specifically to avoid the risk of sounding like I don’t recommend working with the poor of disadvantaged. But serving very affluent families can also be risky and stressful in different ways. Nevertheless, knowing something about the demographic character of parents can be extremely important in determining the desirability of a site.
All of these steps are taken into consideration when we generate a demographic report for our Clients with pediatric based patients. It always helps, however, if our Clients have done their own internal planning if they have strong preferences regarding the services they wish to offer and their ideal patient base.
This is Scott McDonald. Check out our web site at DoctorDemographics.com. Our new Demographic Whetherman feature has been doing very well and you might find it helpful in your own research. We are also lining up our National Demographic Webinar between Christmas and New Years Eve. Let us know if you would be interest by writing to me at info@DoctorDemographics.com. And thanks for listening.