Are you looking to take the next step in your medical career? Can you picture yourself as an entrepreneur taking a leap of faith and owning your own business? Perhaps you should consider starting your own medical practice. According to a recent survey, 17% of physicians are in solo practice.
Owning a successful medical practice is feasible and provides numerous advantages, including autonomy and the ability to make key decisions about how the practice is run. Despite the obstacles and changes in healthcare policy, it is a rewarding venture. In this article, we will discuss 4 necessary steps to starting a new practice.
1. Develop A Plan
Striking out on your own to start a private medical practice is a lengthy and detailed process that requires patience and the utmost attention at each step. The most successful practices are built upon a solid and well-planned foundation. Give yourself at least a year to develop a plan of action. This will include a business plan to document your company’s projected costs and growth, a proposed marketing plan to garner business, a recruiting strategy for your team of healthcare staff, and research into the location for your new practice.
Formulate your plan with a team of experts. You will need a business consultant to advise on the starting of a new practice, an attorney to advise you on choosing a legal structure, and an accountant to oversee your practice’s finances.
2. Finance Your Venture
Like most small-business owners, medical practitioners often require some form of outside capital to fund the costs of starting a healthcare practice. Considering the mountain of student loan debt acquired during medical school, the idea of taking out a small-business loan can be a daunting task. To manage your debt it’s beneficial to learn methods on how to pay off large student loans. This will help to reduce the debt for your income-to-debt ratio and improve your chances to qualify for a loan. For this reason, it is important to have a well-researched idea of the startup costs you’ll need to cover. According to estimates, a small primary care practice will need anywhere from $70,000 to more than $100,000 to cover the costs of rent, insurance and payroll. Furniture, medical equipment and IT systems can cost an additional $100,000.
To cut on costs, one option is to purchase previously owned equipment. Another option is to purchase an already established practice that may be on the market for new ownership.
3. Buy Insurance
Will your practice accept health insurance? If so, you will need to get credentials. First, research the major insurers in your area of planned business. Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield and UnitedHealth are three of the largest private insurance companies in the U.S. Do you plan on accepting Medicare and Medicaid? You will need to be credentialed for this as well. Both processes can be lengthy and can take a few months to complete. This will require you to provide information on areas such as your licensing, liability coverage and medical education, amongst other factors.
4. Choose The Right Technology
Now more than ever, technology has become an indispensable element in healthcare playing a major role in improving the quality of the patient experience and patient care. The Electronic Health Record (EHR) is an integral component of these improvements. When preparing to open your practice, it is important to do your research to choose the EHR that best suits your needs. The right choice in EHR has numerous benefits including an improvement in the quality of care, and more autonomy over the health care experience. One factor that will play an important role in the decision is your choice of Practice Management (PM) system. The two will work together to ensure that communication in your practice is seamless.
Also important on the technological front is your choice of billing and collection systems. A successful practice, like any other small business, relies on a well-designed billing and collection system to survive. Alleviate the administrative load by working with a strong external partner.
As a physician, the ability to determine how you care for your patients is a perk not all practicing physicians have. Whether you are disenchanted with being an employee, tired of your current practice, or have recently completed residency, venturing out on your own is a worthwhile endeavor.