Planning a New Medical Office Space

Robert I. Freedman, Esq

Disclosures

April 13, 2007

In This Article

Step 1: Locating and Planning the Medical Office Space

Office Location

Health professionals must take many factors into consideration when deciding to open a medical office. In real estate it is said that the 3 most important considerations are location, location, and location, so let's start with that. You should plan on it taking 6 months to over a year for this process -- about half of that time to find the place and the other half for renovation.[1,2]

If you already have an existing practice, the location needs to be convenient to patients. It helps to take a local map or print out the appropriate section from an online mapping program, such as Google maps (http://maps.google.com/maps) or MapQuest (http://www.mapquest.com/). Draw a circle (or semblance of a circle) on the map circumscribing as many of the residences of your patients as possible. The ideal location is in the center of that circle. However, one must also take into account other factors, such as the availability of parking for suburban and rural practices, and the proximity of public transportation for urban practices. If you will be spending a good deal of your time in a hospital, proximity to that hospital will be important. It might also be prudent if you receive referrals from other physicians to consider locating in a medical office suite.

Office Size

The next consideration is size. How large of an office do you need? Space is measured in square feet. A rule of thumb for the size of a practice facility is 1200 to 1500 square feet for the first physician and 1000 to 1200 square feet for each additional physician up to 4 or 5.[1] Certain professional suites, such as those for psychiatrists, have less need for space. Some practices may require additional space for equipment, such as x-ray or other imaging equipment.

Renovation

Renovation is another important factor. To hit your mark(et), aim carefully. The goal for most physicians is to represent their practice well, at the best value for the money. First, consider your patient base and the image you want to project to those patients. Physicians who are running a clinic, for example, do not require an upmarket location and costly furnishings. If you want your space to be more upscale, consider hiring an architect.[1]

The next step is to consider the condition of the premises and the cost of adapting it for the intended use. Renovation might consist of no more than fresh paint, new carpeting, and changing the pictures on the wall or it might require a total makeover. First, decide on the number and size of rooms, their layout, appropriate electric service, plumbing, and HVC (heat, ventilation, and air conditioning). If walls need to be moved and electricity installed, these are considered capital improvements (Figure 1).

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