The executive system that I just outlined is common to most businesses – though of course it takes on a unique character in acupuncture businesses. In contrast, the facilities business system is only shared by businesses that have some type of physical location, such as an acupuncture clinic. The facilities business system is much more than just a building, however, it is the solid Earth upon which you will create an effective container for your acupuncture patients’ transformation.
The core of the facilities business system is the physical clinic space where you do your healing work.
The clinic space is the foundation of what I call the “clinical container,” which also includes elements of other systems. The clinical container is that combination of structures, functions and energies that acupuncturists weave together in order to create a safe space for their patients’ transformation. While that container includes much more than just the space – without the space – you don’t really have a clinic! How you arrange the space, how well it flows, how you decorate it, the quality of heat, light and airflow – all of these have a major impact on how your acupuncture work is received and perceived.
Consideration of the space itself is most active during the startup phase or during significant expansions of your acupuncture practice. The facilities system includes searching for and finding a location, negotiating an acupuncture clinic lease, insurance to protect space and stuff, and important matters such as accommodating people with mobility issues and disabilities.
The facilities system also includes the 10,000 things of modern business and medical practice – so much stuff!
All the furniture, artwork, computers, blankets, medical supplies, music players, small appliances, file cabinets, plants, fountains, magazines and everything else besides. How do you decide when and what to acquire, how do you find the best prices, how do you take CARE of all of this stuff – and what if you have unique ideas about how your facility will unfold? The facilities system is enough to hold it all.
Talking about facilities these days inevitably includes discussion of technology. Digital and online technology is used in virtually every aspect of running an acupuncture clinic. Unfortunately, many acupuncturists struggle with this area, producing significant frustration and in some cases increased legal liability! That’s because discussion of facilities on this level also includes things like the HIPAA compliance of your records management and other patient data considerations.
I associate the facilities business system with the phase element Earth.
Earth is stability, centering, nourishment and more on the yin side of the phase elements. It is HOME, above all, and you do want your acupuncture clinic to convey that sense, though you may choose to manifest it in different ways based on your style and niche. Earth provides the structure of the hearth where the fire burns – and similarly the facilities system contains the dreams, vision and power that emanates from the heart of your acupuncture practice.
Earth’s stability makes it possible to be the site of transition and transformation.
Earth is associated with transition and transformation in multiple ways. In one way of looking at the phase elements, Earth is actually the phase that goes between all the other phases – it allows for the other phases to transform into one another. The Spleen, the yin earth organ system, is associated with the earthly branch Si 巳 and the Snake. Snake is one of those animal symbols that is so evocative and is widely found in cultural references. Many of the references discuss snake as an animal of transformation – shedding skin!
It’s obvious to anybody who has been part of an acupuncture clinic that the work we do transforms the lives of patients.
This can happen very simply – say in the alleviation of pain giving a person more energy to engage in the things they love about life. It can also happen in more profound and intense ways, as many of us have experienced when treating patients who are ready for a major change within. The facilities system may seem too mundane for such matters, but in fact, it is the stability of this yin, this Earth, that allows for this movement to occur safely.
When we attend to our clinic space, the things in it, and the safety and security of all of it, we create the essential conditions for the work we want to do. This inevitably results in better patient outcomes, more repeat patients and more word-of-mouth referrals.
Just as you did with the executive system, you should assess your facilities system.
Reading through what I’ve provided, thinking about your own acupuncture clinic, how are things going with the facilities system? Do you have the people, procedures, materials and other resources needed to provide a safe container for your patients’ flourishing? If you’re just starting out – sketch your dream clinic, even make a collage if you’re interested in that type of activity. It’s never too early to begin thinking about your physical space. That goes for those of you who don’t think you want a traditional clinic space, too.
You can use the image provided to guide your investigation. What people are associated with your facilities system? Think cleaning staff as well as anyone who does construction work regularly on your space. What plans do you have for your facilities system? Just asking these questions – whatever your stage in acupuncture business – can start the wheels of your mind in motion. Who knows where they will take you?
In the next article, I move from Earth to Metal and dig into the Financial system of your acupuncture clinic.