The medical world is changing in the US.
Peoples’ go-to source of treatment is gradually altering course.
Indeed, between 2012 and 2016 there was an 18% drop in the number of visits to primary care doctors. According to that source, people are heading to urgent care treatment centers instead.
Commonly funded by giant corporations, these care solutions provide swift and discount support. Small scale medical practices are being competed out of the market.
Now, this trend is unlikely to inspire confidence in any physicians considering opening their own practice.
However, it’s always essential to have a realistic understanding of the current market before entering into it. That way, you’re under no false illusions. You can take the necessary steps to overcome the odds and make a success of the endeavor.
Likewise, a changing world doesn’t guarantee failure. New medical practices can absolutely open and thrive. It just takes a sensible approach and insight to make it happen.
Are you thinking about starting a medical practice? Looking for some advice to help make it become a success?
Keep reading to discover 9 essential tips to do exactly that.
1. Start with a Plan
Planning is always fundamental to the success of a business.
It’s about looking ahead to effectively prepare for what’s to come. The same goes when starting your medical practice.
Set goals. Realize where you want to be overall and break it down into incremental steps. Work backward to figure out each individual step that’s required. Set yourself milestones and know how long it’ll take to reach them.
Be aggressive with your time-frames, but remain realistic.
Look ahead to the potential obstacles that might arise as well. Thinking ahead like this makes nasty surprises less likely. It also means you can plan ahead for how to overcome them.
Equally, having a plan in place can make a difference in funding applications. Potential investors will be more inclined to offer credit when you’ve planned accordingly.
2. Sort the Legal Side
All new practices must go through the process of getting their credentials.
This is required in order to access insurance (government or private) from patients. This can take months, so do it well in advance of opening.
You’ll need to prove you’re licensed to practice. You may require malpractice insurance too. It’s always a good idea to have this anyway, though some states don’t explicitly require it. Likewise, additional insurance may be required for accessing bank loans in the first place.
Arranging insurance is a vital step in this process.
From there, speak with private insurers (if that’s the route you plan on going down) to arrange contracts with each one.
You must choose a legal structure too.
There are different options to decide between here. Each one has direct implications on your levels of tax obligations. It’s always a good idea to work with a health care attorney when making this call. They’ll help you with the legal documentation and proceedings.
3. Understand the Market
You have to perform in-depth market research.
Don’t, and risk making fundamental errors than can hamstring your practice before it even gets going.
Imagine setting up a medical practice in a location that’s already served by another. Failing to scout out the area is rookie mistake number 1! You have to know the competition.
If someone else is established and well-respected in the neighborhood, then you’re less likely to succeed. Instead, find underserved areas in need of your expertise.
For example, a pediatrician might look at set up in a community with lots of young families.
Let’s face it, there’s always going to be competition out there. But entering a saturated market is a recipe for failure. Be diligent in researching the competition when deciding where to set up.
4. Arrange Funding
All new ventures require money upfront.
Unless you’ve been saving for some time, you’ll probably need to organize a small business loan.
This can be a daunting prospect for anyone. For doctors already saddled with masses of student debt, the burden can be felt even more acutely.
However, with the right approach, you can still get access to the finance required.
Of course, it’s important to know how much money you’ll need. Build this into your initial plan. That means accounting for all the costs you can expect in the beginning. Property, computers, software, furniture, standard medical supplies, and so on should all be covered.
An alternative is to investigate practices that are looking for a change. For example, there may be a practice with a retiring physician. You could offer to take over their clinic.
This has all sorts of benefits for both parties. They have an easier transition. You pick up their patients and save money on start-up costs in the process. After all, the equipment and supplies should already be in place; you buy them for a reduced rate.
5. Equip Your Practice
Let’s imagine you’ve found the practice headquarters.
Now it’s time to get yourself set up for operations. What does that mean?
It’s time to buy all of the necessary equipment and supplies. Of course, if you’ve taken over someone else’s practice, then this may already be in place.
Assuming you’re starting from scratch, there’s a bunch of equipment to buy.
There’s the electronic health record system to purchase, practice management system to by, a billing service to arrange, and more. Credit card processors and background checking services are other important components to arrange.
This can be a daunting and time-consuming task. However, with some solid research beforehand and a step-by-step approach, you’ll have everything sorted in no time.
6. Hire the Staff
It’s time to get hiring.
The people you work with will arguably make or break the practice.
It’s hard to overstate the value of working with great colleagues. Conversely, hiring unsuitable people can be a major hindrance to success.
The number of people hire will obviously depend on the size of the practice you’re opening. Always aspire to hire:
- Trustworthy people who you get on well with.
- Those who are smarter than you.
- People with solid credentials.
- Individuals who are capable of working to the highest standards.
7. Prioritize Cash Flow
Cash is likely to be an issue for any physician paving their own way in life.
As we’ve just seen, opening any business requires start-up capital. Raising those initial funds is an initial obstacle to overcome.
But the financial challenge doesn’t stop there.
When the medical practice is up and running, cash flow problems can quickly arise.
Money needs to come in and out of the clinic. As such, it’s essential that a concerted effort is made to stay on top of invoices and insurance claims. These will be two primary sources of income. But when other jobs take precedence, it’s easy to fall behind on them.
Many doctors who open their own practice quickly find themselves owed thousands of dollars in unpaid bills and unresolved claims.
That money is, of course, the lifeblood of the practice. Without it, personal and professional lives suffer. The only way to sidestep the problem is to stay on top of it.
8. Opening and Marketing
You’re now officially ready to open for business!
However, now the work really begins. Opening the doors to new patients by no means guarantees success. It’s absolutely vital that you market your new practice effectively.
Remember, this is a business like any other.
Sure, there will always be demand for medical services in a way that companies can’t rely upon for their products/services. However, that doesn’t mean you can rest on your laurels.
After all, people have to know about you if they’re going to register at your practice.
Marketing is vital. Plan your marketing campaigns in advance. You should have a clear idea of how you’ll advertise the service. There is all manner of ways to go about it. However, having a website is a vital first step.
An online presence is key to being found these days. You could start a blog as well, educating and helping people in all manner of health-related topics. Providing useful content can attract people to your service.
Likewise, get out into the community, hand out leaflets, advertise in the local newspaper…do whatever you can to promote your service. Keep these efforts up over time and you’ll be sure to attract patients to your doors.
9. Hire a Consultant
A final consideration is working with a consultant.
These are experts in the field who know the ropes. Starting a medical practice is a daunting prospect. There’s a lot of room for error for anyone who hasn’t done it before.
A consulting firm, such as Tomerlin-ERP, can walk you through the entire process. Their expertise can be invaluable in preventing mistakes and navigating the challenges.
Final Thoughts on Starting a Medical Practice
There you have it: 9 top tips for starting a medical practice.
Opening a medical practice isn’t easy. The profession is experiencing a fundamental shift in how patients access treatment. Starting a new practice can be a risk.
But that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible! It just means it’s more important to take a sensible approach from the outset. Hopefully, these tips have highlighted the key steps in doing exactly that.
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