Written by: Teresa Iafolla—
So you’re launching your own practice—and probably feeling a little intimidated, right?
As you’re getting started, you’re likely to run into some key decisions that could impact your eventual success. How do you avoid those common mistakes that could work against your medical practice?
We’ve gathered together a list of frequent mistakes physicians make when opening up a new practice. Avoid these pitfalls and you’ll be on your way to getting your new medical practice off the ground.
1.You don’t start planning early enough.
Think starting a practice can be a spur of the moment decision and you’ll start making bank right away? Think again. Even if you’re simply transitioning your current practice to a concierge model, you’ll need time.
Everything takes time, and often, more time than you anticipate. This is particularly true when you have to work with other people, such as lenders, real estate agents, lawyers, contractors, third-party payers, technology firms, etc. Because let’s face it—no one is as gung-ho about starting this practice as you are.
Even when everyone is onboard, much of the preparation for a practice takes time, and there’s not much you can do can speed up those processes. For example, if you need credentialing, leave at least six months. If you don’t, you should plan for closer to four months, according to MBA HealthGroup.
2. You don’t shop around for a banker or loan program.
Chances are you need financial assistance to get your practice going, including loans from banks and/or organizations. Put in the legwork to ensure you’re getting the best bang for your borrowed buck. Weigh the pros and cons for at least three different options in terms of eligibility requirements, loan amounts, interest rates, fees, and other terms and conditions relevant to securing the funds you need.
3. You don’t do the math before making investments.
Right now, everything is an investment, but the investments you make in the early stages could have a huge impact as your practice grows. Before you install top-of-the-line equipment or software, do a cost-benefit analysis. Technology can be a boon for productivity and efficiency, but you need to quantify your benefits, particularly when it comes to cost savings or driving additional revenue.
4. You don’t research the location for your practice.
Location, location, location! Prime real estate can be key to surviving in a competitive healthcare market. Ask yourself a few questions:
- Do you want to be in a standalone building?
- Do you want to share a building and parking lot with other businesses but still be visible from the street?
- Do you want to occupy a suite in a larger office building?
- How much square footage do you realistically need right now?
- Do you plan on expanding that square footage in the future?
- Do you want to own or rent?
- What can your budget allow?
These answers will guide you to the type of office space that suits your needs and budget. But no matter where the answers lead you, high visibility and heavily trafficked areas are key. You might find the perfect space for what you need, but if it’s not in an easily accessible location for your patients, you risk hearing crickets. At the same time, don’t overpay for a particular location if it’s not necessary, or if you’re a specialist who’s in high-demand in that area (See No. 3).
5. You don’t surround yourself with the right staff.
Face it: You can’t do this on your own. Starting your own practice takes tons of moving pieces, and hiring the right staff is critical from the beginning. You need staff that are as motivated and invested in the practice’s success as you are.
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. 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.
This is an exciting time! And while you’ll undoubtedly hit bumps in the road, with a little knowledge and preparation, you can avoid some of these costly mistakes and feel more confident in the future of your medical practice.
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