Saturday, January 17, 2004

Style vs. substance

Things are happening slowly, it seems. Or maybe I'm just getting anxious. You think?

I've finalized the logo design for my new practice, but I have to hold off on sending it to the printers because I haven't gotten official approval for use of the fictitious name by the California Medical Board yet. I spoke to someone at the Medical Board and they said it should be approved by next week. I'd really rather not pay for business cards and stationary that turns out to be unusable. On the other hand, I'd be shocked if they denied my application, since there is no one else using "South Pasadena Family Practice Medical Office" in the whole state.

I did end up getting an EKG machine, but not the one I originally planned to buy. The owner of the the business recommended another machine instead made by Nihon Kohden, a company I had never heard of. But I did have a chance to look it up on the internet while I was there, to satisfy my need to know that this was a reputable company, and it was, being big in Asia. It cost more than the first machine I looked at, but it also had more features, like an alphanumeric keyboard and an LCD screen to preview the heart rhythm. In the end, I decided that $2250 was a fair price for it, so I bought it. It wasn't the cheapest price on the internet, but I figure that I don't always need to get the lowest price. I just want a fair price. I know these guys need to make a living, too. Hopefully, my patients will be as understanding when I give them my bill.

I've started filling up my virtual shopping cart at two online medical supply sites, Henry Schein and Besse Medical Supply. I got a list of exam room supplies from Kaiser to help me get started. I'll have to sit down and compare their prices, but so far they seem comparable.

Even though I will have a very small practice, I want to distinguish my practice from the usual medical office in small but meaningful ways. One of the best ways I can think of is getting rid of those flimsy patient gowns. I hate those things, having had to wear them myself. And the disposable ones are even worse. Surely there's got to be a better, more dignified way for someone to be examined by a doctor. I found some websites selling thicker bathrobe or kimono-type gowns, and those seemed to be the best choice to me. But each one costs from $14-30. I think I'd need at least 25-30 so that I have enough to get by doing laundry only once a week. Luckily, my mother-in-law is an expert seamstress, and my wife offered her mother's services to make some stylish "premium" patient robes/gowns. I told her that if these are popular enough, it could be the start of a new business for her mother.

I put in a call to a handyman to find out if it would be possible (and affordable) to widen the doorway to the small kitchen area so that I can get my mini-refrigerator in there. Hopefully, it won't be too expensive or involved. It's just an inch too wide! It would free up some much needed space in my very small exam room if I could move it out.

Fortunately, the exam table fits just fine. I got it from a retired surgeon who let me have it for free, and it had been sitting in my garage. I and a friend wheeled it over at 10:30 PM 3 nights ago on a small dolly across the main street to my office half a block from my house. We moved it then because traffic would've been too heavy earlier in the day. Now I need to get one of those scales with the height measurement bar, a baby scale and a cabinet to hold supplies, and the exam room is pretty much done with the big items.

Since I'm trying to have an "old-fashioned" style practice, I thought it would be more fitting to have one of those baby scales where you have to slide the weight over to get the reading. Plus those kinds of scales are cheaper than the digital ones. But after thinking about it, if I were a new parent, I think I'd be more impressed with a doctor who has a digital electronic scale, even though both would record about the same weight. I want people to think of me as a doctor with old-fashioned values, like honesty, patience, empathy, while at the same time having the intelligence and know-how to use the latest technology and science. These are some of the marketing things I have to consider as I move closer and closer to opening my own practice.

Style vs. substance? I plan to have both.

Countdown: 16 days until new target start date