There are a lot of benefits to opening up an independent practice. You get the autonomy you want, allowing you to practice medicine according to your values and ethics. You’re also likely to have great relationships with patients since you can get to know them and personalize their care more effectively.
With that said, starting your own practice definitely has its challenges. No one is giving you a paycheck and you have to manage the business side of things in addition to providing care for your patients. You need funding to start a practice, which puts you in debt you’ll need to pay off. It’s a leap of faith to start your own practice, but it can pay off big in the long run.
So, how can you set your independent practice up for success? Here are 3 tips to help you jumpstart your business and get new patients in the door.
- Create a Business Plan
If you’re starting or have already launched your independent practice, you have to think about everything through a business lens. Even if you don’t need a business plan to secure funding (you might only need a pro forma), you will want to create one so that you understand all of the expenses, potential revenue, and other practical considerations involved with opening your practice.
A business plan will also help guide you when you encounter challenges. You’ll have your long-term goals laid out and you can use your business plan to decide what you need to focus on most. If nothing else, creating a business plan will help you think like a business leader.
For some physicians, this is the most challenging aspect of opening an independent practice. It can be difficult to switch gears after your medical training from being a trainee to being the boss. When you’re immersed in the patient care side of the healthcare industry, it can be easy to forget that hospitals and private clinics are businesses and need to be run with that in mind.
- Be Proactive with Insurance Reimbursement and Billing
Getting new patients is great, but only if you get paid! Most healthcare providers want to ensure that everyone gets the care they need. That’s a wonderful goal, but you also have to be able to keep the lights on!
One way to start off on the right foot and prevent payment issues is to set up insurance reimbursement contracts right away. You must also understand how much insurance companies will reimburse you and set your rates accordingly.
Medical billing is extremely complicated and time-consuming. If it’s not done properly, you will run the risk of having payments delayed, which could spell trouble for your practice, so it can be worth outsourcing some of these tasks.
Your employees will have a lot to do as it is. While outsourcing your billing won’t eliminate all billing tasks in the office, it will free up your employees’ time for other tasks. Be mindful about where your employees will provide the most value and where you should invest in outsourcing.
- Marketing, Marketing, Marketing
You won’t get any new patients if no one knows you have a practice! Many physicians and nurse practitioners get so caught up in the details of buying equipment, hiring staff, and other logistics, that they forget about the importance of marketing.
Marketing is an important investment that mostly takes place online these days. As a busy healthcare professional, you will probably want to outsource your marketing and website design to people with extensive experience, whether that’s an employee, an agency, or a freelancer. Be sure to hire someone who can help you make a clear and consistent marketing strategy and build a brand.
Know your audience — if you have a specific population you serve, your marketing and messaging should speak directly to that audience. There are so many places you can announce your new practice and invite people to make an appointment, from social media to your local coffee shop.
Reviews are an important part of marketing in the medical field. Since your patients need to have such a high level of trust in you, it’s important to start getting great online reviews as quickly as possible. People who search for nearby doctors will feel better about contacting you once you’ve got a handful of 5-star reviews online.
People rarely leave reviews without a little nudge, unless they’re upset about something. It’s important to ask patients who are happy with your services to help you by leaving a review. That’s the best way to get a consistent influx of quality reviews that will improve your reputation and bring new patients in.
Gaining Your Patients’ Trust Will Build Your Business
As the owner of an independent practice, you’ll need to wear two hats: healthcare provider and business owner. To keep your practice running, you have to be practical and think about the financial side of medicine. To grow your practice and retain patients, you have to practice excellent medicine and earn your patients’ trust. They need to know that you will prioritize their safety and comfort.
When you first start out, you might feel overwhelmed by the responsibility. The good news is that you already have the skills to gain your patients’ trust. Your training as a doctor and your compassion will help you ensure that your patients get the best care possible. They will also appreciate the personalized service you can offer as an independent practitioner.
Opening your own practice is a gateway to professional satisfaction and freedom. Your patients will reward your efforts with referrals that will help you build your business over time, as long as you treat them with the kindness, respect, and care that everyone deserves in a healthcare setting!