The Business of Care: A Doctor's Guide to
Starting a Medical Practice
There are more doctors that are employed than work for themselves. Today, only 15% of doctors have their own practices.
It’s an indication of how hard it is to survive in a private practice that exists outside of big hospitals and insurance companies.
It doesn’t have to be that way when you’re starting a medical practice. You just need to get a handle on the business side of the practice. This is something they don’t teach you in medical school.
Fortunately, this article has you covered. Let’s take a look at the steps you need to take when you build your medical practice.
The Medical Practice Business Plan
The first step is to treat your practice like a business. That means writing a business plan that details every bit of your medical practice.
You’ll need to research and learn more about who you serve and how. You’ll then need to position your medical practice in a way that your target audience finds appealing.
For example, let’s say that you work with dementia patients and their families. You can highlight the fact that your staff provides support to caregivers and your small practice won’t make them feel invisible compared to a large medical organization.
There are risks to starting a medical practice. You need to be aware of those as well. You would do that in a SWOT analysis, where you note your strengths and weaknesses.
Finally, you have to create spreadsheets that map out your startup expenses and your monthly operating costs. This includes everything from office equipment, payroll, and medical practice software.
Finance Your Practice
It may be a little surprising when you discover the costs to begin your medical practice. Your startup costs can easily exceed hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The question that you need to address is how will you get the funds to start your medical practice. You may be hesitant to take on more debt, especially if you’re still paying off loans from medical school.
There may be other resources available to you that don’t include loans. Your medical practice may be eligible for grants and other economic funding. Many cities are trying to revitalize certain areas, and a medical practice is the start of that.
You may also qualify for grants or low-interest loans if your medical practice is in an underserved community. You’ll want to check with your city’s economic commission and your local Small Business Administration office to learn more about the possibilities.
If those grants or loans aren’t for your practice, there are other options. You could find investors or other practitioners to work with. In that case, you need to have a very clear set of expectations for each investor or partner.
Choose an Office Location
Where are your patients located? Your medical practice has to be in an ideal location because people won’t drive long distances to go to the doctor. They’ll drive about a half-hour to visit a doctor.
You should choose a location that has enough people in that 30-minute radius. You also need to ensure that the office space is sufficient for you and your staff.
The patients should find it easy to get to and easy to park at. If your practice is located near public transportation, that’s even better.
Permits and Licensing
There are legal issues that you need to deal with early on. Your medical license needs to be up to date.
You also have to register your medical practice with the secretary of state’s office. This is the office that usually handles business name registrations.
There are local permits and zoning laws that you need to know. You’ll need to make sure that you have help from an attorney to get the proper licenses to open your medical practice.
Who is going to help you run your medical office? You’re not very likely to do everything yourself.
You need to use your time wisely, and time that’s spent fiddling around with a minor task is time that can’t be billed. You’ll need an office manager that understands medical coding.
You’ll need to have a medical assistant or nurse on hand, too. You may expand your practice to include other doctors. It’s critical to do your due diligence and check the license status of your employees, which this solution can help with.
Develop a Marketing Plan
You’re probably not a marketing expert, but this is an important step when you’re starting a new medical practice. At the very least, have a website and directory listings.
You should join your local business associations, too. That will help you get the word out to your local community.
Leave Your Private Practice
Even though you’re just starting a private medical practice, you should think about the future. How long do you plan to be in private practice? What does your exit strategy look like?
You could decide to sell your practice to another doctor and retire. You could just close it down and sell off the equipment.
There isn’t a right or wrong answer to this question. It is something that you need to think about, though. Consider it part of your long-term vision to work towards.
That will help you stay focused on the long-term goal and make strategic decisions to get there.
Starting a Medical Practice Isn’t Easy
What does starting a medical practice take? It takes careful planning, a big vision, and the fortitude to make that vision a reality.
It’s not easy to enter a competitive field, especially when the competition is well-financed. You can overcome these challenges by providing excellent service and using your small office to your advantage.
For more ways to transform your approach to your medical practice, check out the home page of this site. You’ll find everything from business resources to tips for coaching employees.