Setting Up a Medical Practice

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Opening a medical practice can be both a scary and rewarding career. They are rather difficult to set up, staff, and maintain, but the rewards can be huge. If an individual learns to avoid the pitfalls and frustrations of unpreparedness, he will benefit, and as a result, the community at large will benefit. Knowing the correct process is the first step to realizing one’s dream of owning and managing a successful operation.

Getting Started

When a doctor decides to make the move to his own practice, the three top concerns are usually finding funds, moving into a suitable space and attracting clientele. Planning ahead and maintaining a database of faithful customers can prepare a doctor for the move into his or her own practice. By simply notifying clients, through e-mail or by post, one can guarantee that an upstart business won’t go unnoticed. Because starting any business is extremely cost prohibitive, and because insurance and student loans are almost always a concern, finding a lender can be difficult. Depending on the conditions of the application, certain banks and credit unions will offer loans, but if they cannot, companies do exist to aid doctors in setting up new financial ventures and business practices. Hiring a lawyer is an important step that will save time and money in applying for licensures, finding a location and becoming incorporated. A lawyer also will help ensure compliance with local, state and federal regulations.

Equipment and Hiring

After securing finances, an upstart business needs to concern itself with locating and purchasing supplies. Nearly all of the necessary equipment can be purchased brand new from medical supply companies—but retiring doctors and closing practices may offer these supplies and equipment at discounted rates. Computer systems and monitoring equipment can be purchased from specialized journals. You should consult with other doctors of similar practices to discuss what equipment best suits the needs of the clinic. Finding an accountant is an important time-saving intermediate step between finding supplies and hiring, as an accountant can help decide where best to find an array of resources and how to pay for them. Often times, qualified and energetic risk-takers from a doctor’s previous office will follow a doctor into the new venture, which can solve the problem of forming a working relationship with a whole new staff.

Charges and Compensation

Choosing how much to charge for services and how much to pay employees is a difficult step. Some businesses choose to offer specialized services for which they charge more, while others might make their bottom line a literal “selling point.” Business lawyers and financial analysts provide key insight into this part of a business venture—but many doctors make the mistake of not consulting them. The strategy of balancing educated market research and business management acumen with a healthy dose of risk and experimentation often yields the best results with the fewest headaches. Using caution in investing in new equipment, advertising ventures and an excess number of employees helps a doctor to keep costs low during the volatile beginning stages of the business. With costs accurately estimated and documented, a doctor will be freer in the future to expand spending into cutting-edge equipment, nicer facilities and high- visibility advertising ventures.