Starting a private medical practice can seem overwhelming, especially if up to now you’ve been on staff at a large healthcare institution as an employee. But the rewards of running your own private practice and becoming your own boss and can give you an opportunity to help more people and reap significant financial rewards. If you’re considering starting a medical practice, there are many things to consider from staffing, picking the right location, to medical billing, and malpractice insurance. Then you need to learn about marketing, websites, social media and how to generate referrals from other physicians. Here are seven basic steps to understand as you start your private medical practice.
- Develop Your Life Plan
It’s important for you to understand two things before you start a business: what you want out of life, and why you want it. You need to know this so that you can build a business that allows you to live that life. Some key questions include: How many hours to you plan to work a week? How much money do you need to make to be happy? Is day-to-day variety important to you? Do you have family obligations (young children/elderly parents) that could hinder your resources or time?
- Understand Your Costs
The cost of starting a new medical practice is significant—sometimes upwards of $300,000. Many business owners underestimated initial startup costs. Once you hire staff, payroll comes every two weeks whether you have patients or not. It’s common to rely on credit cards and personal savings as you scramble to find additional working capital. This is compounded if you don’t have a solid business plan. Work with an accountant to create a budget to get your office open and estimate your first year of operating expenses. Most importantly, you need a contingency fund to handle any unexpected costs.
- Staffing Your Practice
Your front desk staff is key the success of any medical practice. It’s important to start thinking about your administrative and medical support staff before you’re ready to sign a lease. You’ll also need to figure out a software solution for how to handle appointment scheduling and reminders. Develop job descriptions and take the time to screen and hire the right candidates. Beyond salary, you’ll need to decide what kind of benefits you’ll offer.
- Secure Proper Medical Licenses
Before you think about opening a business, you’ll need to handle the certification and legal aspects of opening a private medical practice. It can take months to earn the credentials for your practice. You may need to get privileges at area hospitals. You’ll need to apply to have the ability to accept private and government insurance plans. You’ll need to determine if you’ll hire a medical billing company or hire in house staff to mange your payment processing. You also need to make sure you’re properly licensed in your state, have a national provider identifier number, are registered with the DEA, and comply with all other local regulations specific to your medical area.
On top of all of this, you will need to choose a legal structure for your business and register with the state and IRS for an employer identification number number Consider retaining a healthcare attorney to assist in the set-up process.
- Find the Right Location
Before settling on where to locate your practice, it’s a good idea to research other doctors in your discipline. You want to gain an understanding of the local market and your competition. Determine if it makes sense to open office space in a building adjacent to the hospital or find a stand alone retail storefront. You want your location to be accessible to transportation, parking, and in good proximity to your targeted patients. You also need an affordable option. You also want to avoid an area that may be saturated with practitioners offering similar services.
- Purchase Equipment
There are a lot of expenses in furnishing a medical office. You’ll need to invest in telecommunications system for in-office and external communications and medical supplies. You’ll also need to buy or lease office furniture, medical equipment, You should weight your options on whether is makes more sense to purchase or lease the more costly medical equipment. Leasing equipment might be your best option, so that you can always stay up-to-date on the latest advances. Do your research on medical equipment for the best prices, financing and if training is offered.
- Attract Patients
You must have a solid marketing plan to attract patients. When your opening day is within sight, it’s crucial to get the word out and line up your first patients. Consider implementing a marketing plan that includes hosting an open house for your close friends, consider inviting potential referring physicians. Then build a great website, register with Google Analytics, Google local listings and invest in Google Adwords Express, or Facebook ads. The more targeted you can be the better. Hire a professional firm to build a professional website with clear calls to action for setting up an appointment, and begin welcoming patients to your new medical practice.
About the author
Dr. Ala Stanford has a private medical practice Sanford Pediatric Surgery, LLC that specializes in Pediatric Surgery in Jenkintown, PA. Dr. Stanford is affiliated with Abington Hospital.