Small Business Small Business Advice

4 Things to Do Before Opening a Medical Practice

When you’ve worked hard to get through medical school, opening your own medical practice is a fine reward. It promises regular hours and a little more freedom in your schedule. Even though there’s a strong financial and economical pull towards larger healthcare organizations, the power to be your own boss and run things the way you’d like is more than many doctors can resist.

As you go through the process, expect it to be pretty difficult. There’s a lot to consider and many steps to follow. There isn’t a universal checklist you can use to get your practice started. However, it helps to look at what others have done successfully.

1. Write your pro forma or business plan.

The pro forma is a more in-depth version of the business plan, and it’s vital to getting started and obtaining financing.

“The first thing you need to do is build a pro forma, which basically tells the story of what your revenue will be from the first until at least the third year, because you need to go out and get financing,” David Zetter, a healthcare management consultant, told BusinessNewsDaily. “You need to include the costs to set up the practice, your lease’s cost per square foot, your [electronic health record system] expense, medical supplies and office supplies. You’re building a crystal ball of what the practice looks like, and you have to be able to tell how all of those numbers came into being.”

2. Get licensed and choose a legal structure.

Every primary medical practitioner must be licensed in their state, as well as nationally. You’ll also need a DEA number, so you can write prescriptions, and will need to follow a few other certifications to practice in your field.

You also need a good legal structure that will determine the way you pay taxes. It will also define how connected your personal name is with your business; if you’re sued or incur debt you can’t pay, it won’t hurt your personal name. Usually, you’ll open an S or C corporation, but you should seek guidance to make sure it’s the right choice for you.

“It’s worth hiring a health care attorney to advise you on this decision and draft the legal documents — articles of incorporation, articles of organization or a partnership agreement — needed for the structure you choose,” says Teddy Nykiel of NerdWallet.

3. Purchase equipment and staff your practice.

Deck out your practice with all the best equipment. The medical field is highly competitive, so starting out with all the bells and whistles is important to your patients. Perform significant research to determine the best tools and equipment to include in your practice.

Once everything is ready, hire a strong, capable team that you get along with. One of the biggest mistakes that beginning practices make is failing to get the right staff from the beginning. Be cognizant during the hiring process and listen to your gut.

“If you have doubts in the interviewing process, do not hire staff with the hopes that their attitude and work ethic will get better with time,” says Teresa Lafolla of the online medical platform eVisit. “Chances are, they won’t. And if you hire someone promising but they don’t end up making the grade, fire and rehire right away. You invest too much time and money in training your staff—and in your new practice—to struggle with people who don’t share your vision.”

4. Advertise and attract loyal patients.

You also need a plan for gaining clientele, which can be challenging when you’re a new medical practice. Patients tend to trust those who their friends recommend. When you don’t have anyone giving referrals, growing your clientele can be challenging.

It’s important to prioritize marketing dollars. Utilize healthcare-specific marketing services to help you build your website, create content, advertise, and promote paid search according to your practice’s needs.

Once you’ve brought in a few patients, use them to get more. Ask them to refer their friends in exchange for a prize of some kind, like a discount on services or a free gift. Word of mouth marketing is your best ally, so use it to its ultimate advantage.Your practice will take time and effort to grow, so be patient. Continue applying the right tips and tricks to strengthen your practice and promote growth.