Setting up a new medical practice can be daunting, but need not be if you engage the experts at the outset. Employing a good practice manager is the first step in ensuring that the process of opening a new practice is as seamless as possible. Without that support and expertise, critical steps in the process can be overlooked, creating more, and possibly costly work in the long run. There’s a lot of work that goes into opening a medical practice, so there’s a few things to consider.
Research and Plan
Spend the time doing some research and writing up a solid business plan. Know what it is you want to achieve, and have an idea of how to get there. Work out your cash flow, staffing requirements, taxation planning and legislative requirements— and if this is not your forte, enlist the services of someone with experience in medical practice planning to assist you.
Real Estate & Consulting Space
Location is of vital importance. Choose premises that are in the catchment area for the hospitals you need to attend, within your preferred referral or potential referral base, and either have parking, or are close to public transport. Whether you rent or buy your premises is something you need to consider, but regardless, your equipment and supplies will need to be taken into account.
- Renting space in an already established practice can provide access to medical equipment and supplies, lowering your start-up costs.
- GP practices with multiple staff and doctors need substantially more space than a smaller specialist practice.
IT and Technology
Be careful in choosing your medical software, and employ a reputable IT company to look after the technology side of the business. This involves excellent internet capabilities, software licensing, security (vitally important with confidential patient information), a reliable telephone system, and quality hardware. Good medical software is crucial, so find a package that is user friendly, and can do what you need it to do. Time is money, so don’t skimp— choose a package that your admin staff can pick up easily, and will grow as your practice grows— think long term. Your medical software is also your quoting and billing platform, so make sure you have staff trained to use it. It’s tempting to try to cut costs in this area, but long term it will cost you more money.
Hire an accountant you trust, and who can be relied upon to provide you with up to date information about ATO requirements related to staff and the business. Each practice location requires a different provider number— Medicare can be contacted to confirm the requirements of what is needed for your practice, and there are various accreditations and regulations that are required— AHPRA and the Medical Board of Australia can provide the specifications.
Get your Marketing right
Marketing is a very important part of growing your practice. Even medical specialists need to let people know they’re in business, so market yourself. Pay someone to build you a good website, and spend money on marketing. Make up some profiles and business cards to hand out, and don’t be shy in getting yourself and your practice out there. Do the hard work at the beginning, and as your reputation and expertise become known, your practice will grow by word of mouth.
- If you are a specialist or surgeon take the time to visit GP practices and introduce yourself.
- GP’s are always keen to refer their patients on to a surgeon or specialist who will treat their patients with care, and provide excellent service.
- GP’s can be loyal referrers and acknowledgement that they are a large part of your success never goes astray.
Hire right staff
Never underestimate the impact a secretary or receptionist will have on your practice growth. It doesn’t matter how efficient a secretary is, if they are rude or abrasive to patients it will affect your business, especially with the ease in which people can leave online reviews. In the medical field patients need compassion and understanding, not a grumpy secretary. Take the utmost care in selecting employees, and pay well to attract experienced and professional staff. The saying that you get what you pay for is profoundly true—this can make or break your business.
Engage a Professional Practice management company
There’s a lot to consider when opening a medical practice and it can be overwhelming. Hiring an experienced and reputable practice management company can help you navigate the process.
There are two main types of Practice Management models. The traditional Practice Management model where the business is managed on your premises. The other option is Virtual Practice Management, where all parts of the practice is managed offsite in a different geographical location.
The two models suit different style practices, and both can ensure the smooth opening of your practice and managing every operational aspect of your practice. This will free you up to do what you do best, while your practice is being run smoothly and efficiently.
There are many things to consider and we look forward to breaking down the challenges and providing vital information on setting up a medical practice in more detail in coming articles.