1- Building a profitable business plan
“Without a business plan, doctors may spend most of their time “fighting fires”, such as staff issues, unexpected expenses, and changes in government health policy. Implementing proactive systems through a business plan can prevent fires in the first place.”
Building a realistic and profitable business plan is the essential first step for any medical practice in the making. With a plan at hand, your practice is more equipped for obtaining financing from banks and investors, communicating critical business information to key staff and stakeholders, and delivering long term goals for growth. A thorough business plan requires a substantial financial component, considering key legislation and law around running a small business.
Your business plan also needs to include essential information on the vision of your practice, your angle for providing a unique service in a competitive market, and strategy around the structure, service range, staffing, premises, and processes. Making these difficult decisions now will help you to motivate your staff with the same vision in mind and avoid any future disputes around growth trajectory.
2- Financing your small business
With a good business plan in place, prospecting potential investors and banks for financing becomes the next step. Compared to purchasing an existing practice, starting a medical practice from the ground up is far more affordable. Whether it is a lump sum loan or monthly loan repayment with a medical finance provider, your capital needs to cover the initial cost of premises, technology, equipment, and staff on-boarding.
3- Investing in insurance and clear policies
Whatever your specialization or the vision for your practice’s growth, investing in medical indemnity insurance is essential in your checklist for setting up a medical practice. While compliance policies and established procedures around patient care and staff training will minimize some risk, insurance provides the necessary protection.
It can be more costly to do damage control, rather than implement clear policies and best practices first go. Anything from issues with faulty equipment, EMR systems insufficiently protected, staff behavior, or quality of facilities can lead to liability.
Ultimately, establishing clear policies and procedures is about equipping practices to fulfill their duty of care. A lack of practice-wide policy around practitioner and staff behavior can open your practice to liability should something arise. Before your practice opens its doors for the first time, invest time for establishing policies and procedures around:
- Appropriate staff behavior
- Safe handling of patient information
- Effective management of administration and fee management
- Maintenance of equipment and facilities’
4- Sourcing a reliable practice manager
The evolving role of practice manager means they are a core member of your medical practice, no matter the size. Though they often have little patient contact, their role covers aspects of management, business, finance, HR, and marketing. They become invaluable with multiple specialists providing different services all in the same premises.
5- Building a support team
An effective hiring strategy has the long game in mind. It should consider:
- Your vision for the practice
- Your practice’s growth trajectory
- Reasonable constraints of your premises
- The work/life goals of your healthcare professionals in your specialization
- Healthcare workforce trends
Ultimately, your staff are there to elevate the experience for every patient — whether they are a specialist or support staff. Establishing clear procedures on hiring, on-boarding, and ongoing training will help you ensure all your team are equipped with the tools and know-how to succeed.
6- Strategic location needs
The age-old motto of “location, location, location” has never been more accurate. Once the challenges of building out a good business plan, obtaining financing, and investing in essentials are done, the issue of selecting a suitable location begins. As you are scouting out potential premises for rent or purchase, keep in mind:
- Accessibility to buses and trains
- Proximity to local car parks or ample street-side parking
- Ramp or lifts access for patients in wheelchairs, elderly patients, and patients with prams and strollers’ stairs only facilities may fail to cater to all your patients
- Regulations, allowing you to use premises for commercial purposes, in particular medical practice Facilities, such as bathrooms, for patients
- Demographics of local areas, for example, obstetrics clinics may find more value in establishing premises in areas with more young families rather than retirees.
7- Empowering technology on the go
The right technology at your fingertips is empowering for your whole team. With sufficient IT infrastructure in place, you can help your staff to manage patient information efficiently, organize appointments and follow-ups, ensure consistent fee management and cash flow, and more.
Today’s technology needs to embrace the new ways patients are approaching their health. Through increased access to essential health information, patients are equipped with the know-how to take greater control of their health greater awareness leads to greater engagement. Many health apps, such as trackers for calories and daily cardio, are also collating information that could further equip you to provide ongoing patient care. Ultimately, excellent patient care with the help of supportive technology is an empowering and educational process.
For those seeking out a practice management solution catering to your specific specialization and needs, there are countless choices on the market. However, not all systems are made equal. If you weigh up the pros, cons, and considerations of your technology, try this free checklist; it is a handy framework so you can make the best decision for your practice.
In the first year of your practice, it is crucial to plan and execute a thorough marketing strategy that aims to build up a strong referral network and establish a trustworthy online presence through a website and various social channels. The premises of your practice may mean little foot traffic, leading to low visibility in the local community. This factor, along with the level of competition in the area, will determine the intensity and angle of your go-to-market strategy.
9- Obtain the Proper Equipment
Once your financing comes through, and you have chosen a location, you will need to obtain all the equipment needed to operate a private clinic. The medical equipment you need depends on the type of practice you are opening. You are the expert when it comes to this equipment. Just make sure you leave no stone unturned. You will also need to obtain computers and a communications system for the office. This will handle external and internal communication. Your waiting room will need furniture. Try to provide a comfortable and warm environment for your patients. Finally, you will need to obtain all the office supplies your front office staff will need to conduct business. When outfitting your clinic, investigate leasing options for your medical equipment. This may help cut some of the initial costs.
10- Staff Your Clinic
It is time to start deciding on the professionals who will staff your clinic. You will need to start this process early, so everyone is ready to go when your doors open. During the hiring process, be clear about when you plan on opening.
This is another area that depends on your practice. However, you will likely need certified nurses and a front office team.
Write out detailed job descriptions and post ads online. You will also need to nail down the types of benefits you are going to offer each position.
It would help if you chose staff members who understand your values and are on board with the overall goal of your clinic. Also, excellent communication skills and a pleasant disposition are fundamental in the medical industry.
11- Decide on Your Billing Process
Billing is a huge component of any medical facility. The type of billing system you implement plays a significant role in patient satisfaction and the workflow of your clinic.
You may want to consider outsourcing your billing if you can afford it. This will take much of the workload and confusion of your staff.
However, it is possible to perform the billing and claims process in-house successfully. You will need to choose a reputable medical billing software.
If you opt to do things in-house, you will want to hire someone who has experience with this process. They can then help other front office staff members get acquainted with it.
If you have relationships with doctors who run a private practice, ask them how they handle their billing services. You will likely get some good advice for starting.
12- Think like a patient
Whether as a patient or visitor, we have all been in a hospital and had ideas about what would have made our hospital experience exceptional. Thinking about what I would want to see as a patient coming in for surgery helps determine everything from signage to the design of the hospital rooms. For example, all our hospital rooms will be VIP sized with plenty of comfortable space for the family to spend the night. Providing lux amenities, such as premium quality linens, customized meals provided by an onsite chef, and concierge services, are ideas our team put into place because of “thinking like a patient“.
13- Find and invest in top talent
During construction, much investment will be made in facilities, equipment, and technology; however, none of this is as important as the investment made in our team. Like many other markets across the country, Fort Worth is a highly competitive healthcare market. It is never too early to start looking for top talent. I look for employees that will not only fit in our organization culturally but also share our passion and commitment to providing first-class patient care. Once hired, I empower the employees to take ownership of their various departments. I bring them on early enough to have input into the workflow as well as the organization of their department. We work together as a team getting each department set up. It is so rewarding to see the pride a staff has in starting a hospital from the ground up.
14- Know your surrounding community
Hospitals need to be a part of the communities they serve. Once the site was chosen for our hospital, we immediately became involved in the community and the neighborhood. Community boards and the local chamber of commerce provide opportunities to get your hospital name out there in the community well before it opens. They also provide excellent opportunities for networking with local businesses that might be candidates for providing various services to your hospital. Our hospital joined Ft. Worth South, Inc., which is a non-profit organization established to spearhead the revitalization of the medical district. Through our association with Ft. Worth South and the Ft. Worth Chamber of Commerce, we have met numerous business owners in our hospital neighborhood and had many opportunities to promote our hospital.
15- Do not forget to get your hands dirty
As executives, we must have the view from the top. However, I believe leaders must also have a view from the bottom up. We all started somewhere and worked our way up. I started my career as an operating room nurse, and I try never to forget that. Regularly, I still work side-by-side with our nurses and physicians treating patients. I do this because I love taking care of patients and because interacting with our employees, surgeons, and patients on a first-hand basis enables me to understand better how we can best meet patient needs, solve problems and create a better working environment for our staff. If you avoid getting in the trenches with your staff, it is easy to forget the hard work that is being done by people at all levels.
16- Never stop looking for ways to improve
There is an incredible amount of hard work that goes into building a hospital from the ground up. It is easy to sit back and think the job is done once the hospital opens its doors. However, as soon as you open the doors of your new hospital, new challenges will emerge some you anticipate; others give you and your staff a chance to learn and grow. You must always be looking for ways to improve the hospital for patients, physicians, and staff. Continuous improvement is just that it goes on continually.