Starting a new venture is always risky. The pressure of doing things right manifests when both your resources and your reputation are at risk. Therefore, today we will be broadly discussing the road map to starting your own medical practice.
Defining a timeline, and having a detailed plan will help in a smooth transition from one phase to the other. It will also help you to identify areas where you are lagging behind and work on issues that can pose a threat to you in the long-run.
Here is the How to start a medical practice-Checklist:
Determine a business model
Whenever considering a start-up, the first point to consider is whether you want to be the sole-owner or initiate the venture in partnership with someone. Both models have their own pros and cons. Managing everything on your own can be very laborious and time-consuming but you are the sole decision-maker and get to keep all the profits in the long-run. However, having a partner means that you can share medical responsibilities and take less mental pressure. It also means that the resources required to start the practice (the monetary funds to be exact), will have to be pooled in by both of you. This can specifically prove to be helpful if you are short on cash. However, this means you would need to make some compromises and share any benefits earned from the business.
- Establish a model to generate financial income
An important aspect of your business model is also to devise a strategy regarding charging your patients for the health services they receive at your clinic. There are 3 methodologies that can be adopted in this regard and you may choose the one you find most suitable.
- Traditional-Receiving co-pays (insurance covers) from patients in turn for providing them medical assistance and then getting that amount compensated from the respective insurance providers.
- Concierge-Along with the health insurance cover, patients are required to pay a certain, fixed amount to the medical practitioner under this model.
- Direct Primary Care- Under this model, the practitioners do not accept payment in terms of insurance covered policies but rather require a flat membership fee from the patient to receive their services.
Obviously, higher charges would mean patients receive more individual attention and better services. Therefore, the number of patients that are attended each day, would need to be comparatively lower under the Concierge and Direct Care models.
Another area that should be given careful thought to when deciding on a financial model is your level of comfort dealing and coordinating with insurance companies and your state’s laws and regulations regarding seeking reimbursements from these companies.
Set up a bank account and get yourselves registered
It is very important to keep your finances organized, secure and channelized. Therefore, it is inevitable to sign up for a business account in any reputable bank.
Since you would be busy catering to the influx of patients, it is advisable to hire a resource to look after your financials or to invest in a good accounting software.
Most importantly, being in such a credible profession you would want your medical practice to be registered and recognized, even if it requires paying a certain amount in taxes, duties or other governmental charges.
Therefore, register with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to get your tax identification number or TIN as early as possible.
Decide on the exact amount to be charged for various services
If you are wondering that this step is being repeated because you have already determined an operating mechanism with respect to finances, we would like to clarify that it is one thing identifying the methodology but you need to decide exactly how much you should charge against each type of health care service.
Example, the charges for a routine check-up, surgical procedure, detailed examination and administering an Intravenous Fluid (drip) would all vary significantly.
You should consider your costs and apply a reasonable surcharge to ensure your fees are not unusually high because that would leave you at a disadvantage as patients might head towards more reasonable healthcare providers in the area. A simple method to get this step right is surveying what other medical practitioners in your area are charging for similar services and then setting a fee-range accordingly.
Sort out the paperwork
- Depending on your country and state`s requirement, you would need to send an application to seek permission for functioning as a Medicare provider.
- Also, file applications with the insurance providers in your areas so as to get your name added in the list of eligible healthcare providers for receiving insurance claim compensations for patients who avail services at your clinic.
- It is also advisable that at least for the first year, keep a copy of all your documents handy at your clinic to satisfy any authorities or organizations who may barge in to check your credibility.
Purchase the required software and medical equipment
While going through the key elements of how to start a medical practice checklist, the most important one is definitely to invest in medical supplies and hospital equipment needed to start operations.
Additionally, to meet the requirements of a digital and fast-paced era, many organizations would need to buy multiple software that aid in record-keeping and speeding up processes.
Following are some purchases you should consider under these heads:
- Record-keeping software-Some popular options include:
- In-Sync Healthcare Solutions
- Compulink Healthcare Solutions
- HER 24/7
- Medical billing software – Such software reduces your hassle of keeping a manual record of outstanding insurance claims and sending the relevant companies reminders and doing follow-ups.
- Medical supplies and specialized devices. Ideally, the entire set-up for a clinic or healthcare facility would need to be invested into. However, initially it is ok to start small and manage with the absolutely essential equipment. These may range from syringes, thermometers, sugar level and blood pressure monitor to basic furniture, medical beds, in-patient uniforms and cleaning supplies. Obviously, this list would be very extensive and a medical practitioner would know better about these requirements. Our point is that this cost and planning how and where to buy them from must not be eliminated from the checklist.
Hiring human resources
An important consideration on the check-list for how to start a medical practice is determining how many staff members you would need to hire and the salaries that need to be given to them. This would depend on the size of your healthcare set-up, its scope and your own decision regarding the level of outsourcing or in-house services you wish to maintain.
Some key things that should be kept in mind regarding this topic is:
- Defining a job-description for each of the hired roles
- Distribute responsibilities equally and realistically between staff members, keeping in mind the 24/7 nature of your profession.
- Deciding on monetary compensation and other employee benefits to be offered
- Devising policies for code of conduct, late-coming, absenteeism and work-culture.
Ensuring patient privacy and data confidentiality
It is very important for healthcare providers to maintain the confidentiality of their patient’s medical records and related history.
HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) is a law in the United States which protects the privacy of patient data. In order to ensure your medical care facility does not violate any of its rules, it would be wise to pay attention to the following areas:
- Where will you store the patient health records and who would be allowed access to them?
- How would you ensure safety of this data if even a limited number of staff members can view it?
- When will the staff members be made aware of high confidentiality requirements of the profession and the repercussions of non-compliance?
- How are you treating your staff members? (This may cause feelings of anger, resentment or revenge and hence data may be leaked to disparage the organization’s image).
Marketing and promotion
Even though this step may seem irrelevant to you on how to start a medical practice checklist, it is a very important requirement to make yourself known and recognized in the community. Patients would only turn towards your clinic if they are aware of its existence and have heard about the quality services.
Few of the ways to achieve this are:
- Becoming a member of the medical personnel networking groups
- Asking friends, family and walk-in patients to spread the word
- Develop active social media accounts for your medical practice.
Apart from all of the above, it will help build a connection with residents of the area if you participate in social welfare and community building programs. Examples include free health screening on certain days to get introduced to the public. This will also allow them to visit and view your set-up. Another option could be conducting free health related informative seminars in one of World Health Days.
We hope this checklist on how to start a medical practice would turn out to be useful for physicians considering to start their own clinic. Your own healthcare facility seems to have great potential especially given the current uncertain times where many people are getting fired merely because organizations can`t afford to pay them anymore. Also, large hospitals are rapidly acquiring smaller clinics so you may never know when the dynamics of your workplace change. Having said that, it has its own sets of challenges. We would advise that once developed and sustained as a successful practice, do consider investing in malpractice insurance to combat operational risks.