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There are many reasons that I love the Internet, but none are more important than the simple fact that the Internet means information. Lots of it. And lots for free.

Last week, I was privileged to speak to a group of physical therapists at the APTA’s Combined Sections Meeting about the numerous resources available on the Internet for the purpose of performing a market analysis. And while we covered a number of great (and FREE) resources, we barely scratched the surface of what is available online for this very important purpose.

Understanding one’s market is critical to the success of small practice healthcare, and the information required to perform this type of analysis is only a few keystrokes away. In an effort to share some of the resources discussed during the presentation, I’ve included some links below which I believe to be some of the easiest and most informative resources available on the web for purposes of market analysis.

US Census: www.census.gov
Easy, intuitive, and free, the US Census Bureau’s website provides more information than you could ever digest in a single sitting. From population to disabilities to income level and more, the US Census website will provide you with a useful snapshot of your community, helping you better understand which of your services may (or may not) be the best fit.

Missouri Census Data Center: mcdc.missouri.edu
Let’s talk specifics. What if you wanted to know the number of persons over the age of 65 that have a disability within a 1-mile radius of your practice…look no further than MCDC. One of my favorite resources, MCDC can provide you with this level of specifics and more. Just visit the MCDC website and click on the “Circular Area Profiles” link to begin. You’ll need the latitude and longitude of your practice, but there are several websites available that can provide you with this information.

County Health Rankings: www.countyhealthrankings.org
This is a well-organized, informative website that will help you to understand the composition of your county on the basis of a number of health outcomes and factors. Want to know how many uninsured adults live in your county? How about the incidence of adult obesity? The information is only a couple of clicks away.

There are more market analysis resources available online than I could possibly share with you in this short post…and I encourage you to find – and use – them. Knowing your market will help you to develop services more in tune with your local needs and will allow you to maximize the profitability and growth potential of your business. I encourage you to check out the resources above, and the many more that can be accessed online…for FREE!