How Much Space?

July 1, 2006

In planning an office for a family practitioner, what is the industry standard for square footage, not including space for medical records?

Question: In planning an office for a family practitioner, what is the industry standard for square footage, not including space for medical records?

Answer: The only industry standard I'm aware of is the median published by the MGMA in its annual costs survey. For family practices, the median square footage per FTE physician among its respondents is 1,900.

Presumably, most of the practices surveyed do not have EMRs and need room for medical records.

Clearly, your space needs would change based on the number of physicians in your office, whether you plan to offer ancillary services that require procedure room or large equipment, workflow, practice customs, and plans for growth. Is there a phlebotomist on staff, and would she draw blood in her own room or go to the patient? Do you have physician offices, or have you done away with them, like many practices have, in favor of standing dictation/EMR pods and hand-washing stations centrally located among a cluster of exam rooms? Are you thinking of adding new clinical staff?

Generally, expect exam rooms to turn around every 15 minutes. The number of exam rooms needed per physician will depend very much on their personal productivity rates, but I'd say you need at least three.

Physicians should share exam rooms, and smaller rooms are better. You want everyone taking as few steps as possible.

Try to avoid devoting much if any space to nonproductive physician offices. Patient consults can take place in small consult rooms or in exam rooms. Dictation and quick phone calls can happen in small stations near each set of exam rooms.