Occasionally doctors who have been working at a hospital or medical practice for a few years may decide they have gained enough experience in their medical field and would like to strike out alone and found their own practice and start a private clinic.
Even though the task of creating a private medical clinic from scratch may seem daunting there are several benefits such as more freedom to make decisions, setting your own schedule, and providing you with a better income.
For medical practitioners thinking about opening a private clinic, there are a few pieces of advice that are helpful to consider if you want to reduce the risks and avoid some common pitfalls.
1. Legal Obligations
In the United States, the laws relating to private medical clinics are governed and enforced by the Office of Inspector General (OIG), a branch of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Most private clinics will require OIG compliance programs especially if they bill for Medicare and other programs provided by the DHHS. Compliance programs ensure a health care provider is meeting their compliance obligations and passing their Medicare and Medicaid billing audits.
Some private clinics hire attorneys to help create, implement and maintain their compliance programs, and in the case of an investigation, they can provide evidence of compliance on your behalf. When looking for a compliance attorney, you may want to check their track record and background to see how much experience and knowledge they have.
2. You Need a Business Plan
As with any business, it is imperative to start with an extensive and detailed business plan when opening your private clinic. It should include a step-by-step breakdown of how you are going to achieve your aims and objectives, supported by projections of income, costs, and profit or loss.
When writing your business plan you must set revenue targets and decide how much disposable income you would ideally like to earn. It is also recommended as a best practice to organize and plan out every detail including the creation of documents and systems that will be used daily.
If you need to get financing for your clinic then a solid business plan that can withstand the scrutiny of bank managers is vital. A clear plan that shows how you will attract customers, manage expenses, and record finances will help to build trust between you and whoever is lending you money or investing in your clinic.
3. Budgeting Saves Money Later
Starting a new private clinic can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, so as mentioned above some owners need to seek financing from external sources such as banks or individuals.
Despite most owners understanding the start-up costs of a new clinic won’t be insignificant, many make the common error of underestimating them which can lead to cash flow problems, delays in the project, and the need to find new funding sources.
To avoid these problems it is crucial to break down initial set-up and operating costs which you should aim to follow strictly as well as considering any unexpected costs that could be incurred.
4. Finding the Right Location is Critical
Choosing the right location for your clinic will mean you are more likely to receive enough patients for it to operate successfully. During the business planning phase, you should have identified your target audience and made a profile of your target patient, ideally, the location of your private clinic should be accessible to a large proportion if not all of your target audience.
When looking at potential properties for your clinic it is worth checking that it is suitable to provide for the needs and wants of your target patients, of course, some general things most patients will be expecting are lots of car parking space, access for the handicapped, a comfortable waiting room, a front desk, and toilets.
The location you select will also depend on where any competing practices can be found in the same area and if there are a few you should do some market research to figure out if there are enough potential patients around for both your clinic and competing clinics to thrive.
Deciding on a location before applying for funding will increase your chances of receiving ample financing because you will be able to make much more accurate estimations of renovation costs and operating costs such as maintenance, rent, or property taxes and utilities.
5. Purchasing Equipment & Hiring Staff
After finding a suitable location and obtaining the right amount of finance, the next step you need to take is purchasing all the necessary equipment and hiring experienced and professional staff.
You should take some time inspecting medical equipment and researching specifications before purchasing to ensure quality control and avoid any costly medical errors. Equipment such as computers and communications systems will also be required to perform administrative functions. For the waiting areas, you will need some things to help make it a pleasant and relaxing space such as an air conditioner, bookshelf, comfortable furniture, plants, and a water cooler.
A major determining factor in the success of a private clinic is the performance and sum efforts of its employees who should be full of confidence, experience, and professionalism throughout their workday.
You will need to ensure your staff such as nurses and other medical professionals are certified and fully trained. Additionally to support the medical team you will need to hire an administrative team to take care of paperwork related to billing, expenses, payroll, and taxes.
6. Investing in Marketing Will Attract More Patients
Your private clinic will survive and hopefully later thrive due to a steady flow of new and regular patients, however, to achieve this you need to write and implement a marketing plan.
One of the first things you should do is build your brand identity which includes your logo, tagline, and key values. This will help you to tell potential patients what kind of private clinic you operate and how it is different from other clinics. To provide your clinic with a good level of credibility you must invest in a well-presented, functional, and informative website to help you reach and communicate with more of your target audience.
Opening your private clinic is a daunting task not only because of the high start-up costs but also due to the sheer amount of work required. Therefore, if you are planning to start your own practice then you should understand what is involved to increase your chances of success.