If you have reached a point in your medical career where your current premises no longer the best fit for your needs, it's time to consider pastures anew. This leads to the complicated choice – should refit your existing medical facility or begin construction on a space tailored to your needs?

While there are pros and cons to both, the choice doesn't have to be difficult. Once you have come to an initial decision, use this guide to check whether a medical facility new build or refit is the right move for you.

1. Specialist vs general medical practice

To the public, the design differences between a GP practice and a specialist office may seem negligible. However, experts in medical facility design understand that these have vastly different facility specifications and design requirements.

For example, a specialist medical practice will likely cater to patients with greater urgent care needs or unusual ailments. While private spaces are vital in each and every medical facility, specialist practitioners often have unique needs for consultation and recovery rooms that GPs won't. For example, skincare specialists may require laser removal equipment that other doctors wouldn't.

Specialist medical facilities often have different layout requirements than general practitioners' offices. Specialist medical facilities often have different layout requirements than general practitioners' offices. 

Similarly, while it's unlikely that a GP practice will have any design requirements for a space that aids recovery from procedures, specialist medical facilities will probably need to consider factors like ample airflow in design plans to this end. General practitioners will instead have to focus on design elements to aid greater patient inflow (to handle higher volumes of patients) and to create an inviting and calming treatment space.

If you're moving towards a new specialist medical discipline, a new build project is likely the best fit to delivering a space that is a perfect fit for your medical needs.

2. The importance of location

Location is a vital factor for the success of any medical facility. For example, new building developments around NSW means local communities are shifting, with populations settling around access to nearby medical care. New healthcare precincts, with hospitals and other medical facilities grouped together for ease-of-access, attracts new patients from surrounding areas to one place. On the flip side, however, this can also increase competition between your medical facility and others for the same customers in a smaller area.

Additionally, if your practice has been in the same location for years or decades, it may not suit to move away from patients nearby who rely on your care services. In this case, a refit is a much more sensible decision for improvements and upgrades. Refitting a medical facility can be just as effective a design choice as building new, but with an often lower price tag. Of course, it depends on the specifications of your fitout, but expert project planning and design development can transform an outdated space into a truly fit-for-purpose medical facility.

The location of your medical facility is just as important to success as your design inside. The location of your medical facility is just as important to success as your design inside. 

3. Consider all costs over time, immediate and hidden

Even once you've considered all the factors above, your budget will still undoubtedly affect your final decision in a big way. It's important when finalising your choice to go beyond the immediate project outlay and factor in the costs over time. Fitting out your medical facility may seem more cost-effective short-term, but the potential improvements from an expanded medical facility can outweigh these expenses in productivity gains.

It's also vital to consider each dollar you need to invest in any project because the costs aren't all immediately obvious. For example, you may break ground on a new build – only to find that you have breached state environmental laws and now have to pay additional taxes on the site. Factoring in these hidden costs through checking and double checking your research is vital to giving you the best information possible to make your final decision.

For more advice on medical facility design and fitouts, get in contact with the expert Space for Health team today to begin the consultation process. Our 26 years' experience in the Australian healthcare industry means we have a solution to suit you.