So you’re considering a feasibility study, or even a full blown business plan for a proposed healthcare facility. Congratulations-it means that you’re contemplating some kind of new business venture-maybe an outpatient surgery center, an assisted living facility, or a medical office building. I’m talking some kind of physical structure … bricks and mortar. Or perhaps the study is focused on a market analysis for a new service line inside your existing medical facility. Whatever it is, with it comes great excitement, great possibilities and of course, lots of gray hairs! However, when done properly, a well conceived healthcare feasibility study can help to allay your fears and set you on a path to success.
Me, I’m a longtime skilled nursing facility operator. And when it comes to a nursing home feasibility study, I’ve always had a particular bugaboo (is that a legitimate word?) about those armchair warriors who seem to think that such studies can be done from the comfort of an office, utilizing nothing but a phone and the Internet. The Internet is a wonderful thing but it can also lull you into a sense of false security with its complete access to lots of information.
Management by walking around-does it have its place in a medical services feasibility study?
Back in the 80’s for those of you who are old enough like me to remember then, there was a concept called “management by walking around”. It meant that instead of being an office jockey, effective managers should walk around their business to see what was going on. I like to employ the same principle when conducting a feasibility study-walk around. Well, perhaps not literally everywhere although I could use the exercise, but you get the idea.
When I’m doing a feasibility study, one of the places I do drop by is the local Chamber of Commerce. On one trip, in which I was assessing the market for a skilled nursing facility, I was talking with a clerk at the front desk and a real estate agent happened to walk by. We ended up engaging in a conversation that was quite revealing and useful to my report. Local knowledge and insider information-I love it!
Get out and do a competitive analysis.
To me, there’s nothing that can replace actually going out and physically checking out the area in question. It’s unfathomable to my thinking that a feasibility study worth basing a decision on would not include a detailed review of the potential competition in the healthcare market service area. This review must include a physical visit to each potential competitor. It gives me the opportunity to see the competition, check out what they’re doing and even meet their staff. This is a great way to find out what’s going on in the market and see just how good the competition is.
In my many trips, I’ve found out incredibly useful information that could not be gleaned from the Internet by walking around and speaking to people in the community. Just a few examples of places I’ve had wonderful discussions-coffee houses, gas stations, hotels and even a bus station! (That’s another story for another day.)
Got a feasibility study or a business plan to complete? Get off that chair and get out there!
There are certainly many more components to a well conceived feasibility study than what is gathered from checking out the market place. However, I highly recommend that if you’re doing such a study, go and visit the primary and secondary market areas. Really take the time to check it out and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you find out. Besides, it’s good exercise and after a long day of walking around, you can reward yourself with a big slice of banana cream pie…AND you can rest easier knowing that you’ve added some real credibility to your feasibility study.