Back in kindergarten, someone probably asked your class what everyone wanted to be when they grew up, and there’s a good chance that in the mix of all the replies of astronaut and firefighter, someone probably said they wanted to be a doctor.
In time, a lot of kids abandoned that dream, just as many of them never ended up in a fire engine or a rocket. But for others–maybe you–the dream lived on, and after many years of education and training, it has become reality.
Unfortunately, you haven’t quite reached your destination yet. While it’s satisfying to take care of patients while working with another doctor or in a hospital setting, you dream of going a step further and owning the business in which you practice.
It’s not a simple process, but anyone who can make it through medical school successfully can pull it off. Let’s review some of the things you’ll need to do effectively to navigate the rough waters of starting a healthcare practice:
Forget the days of a friendly doctor with a simple black bag of instruments. You realized long ago that there’s more to it than that. Operating a medical practice–or any kind of healthcare business, for that matter–calls for some complex and expensive equipment.
The complement of instruments and machines you will need will vary according to your specialty, but there are also some common ones you’ll need regardless of the practice. For example, you may only need an EKG machine if your work involves cardiac or respiratory care, but every practice will need exam tables, good lighting, and non-medical provisions like chairs for the waiting area. There’s a delicate balance to strike between getting the best for your patients and staying financially afloat, so choose wisely as you shop.
Funding the Startup
Like any other startup, a health care business needs money. There is an office to lease or purchase, equipment to set up, software to buy, and of course, people to pay. You’re making a good living as a doctor, but probably not good enough to bankroll all of those costs.
The traditional route is a bank loan, of course, but there are other ways to finance it as well. You may be able to take on partners who would not only help cover the costs but might also help reduce the workload and enhance the level of care. You could even get into a crowdfunding campaign, especially if your practice would meet a specialized need such as rural health care or a badly-needed specialty. Explore your options thoroughly before you commit.
When you began to practice medicine, you probably took out malpractice insurance to protect you from lawsuits by patients. However, you may have had other coverage through your employer that will be void once you go out on your own. Talk to your insurance provider–and maybe even to a trusted attorney–to get a profile of your malpractice coverage so that you can be sure it’s sufficient.
In addition, your practice itself will need coverage. You will have all that expensive equipment to protect against theft, fire, water, and weather damage, and you’ll also need liability coverage for those who come into your office each day. There will also be a need to get health care insurance set up for your employees; it’s hard to attract good workers without it.
You probably got into medicine not for a business opportunity but for the chance to help people. Considering that you can make more money with less headache in one of many different careers, there must be something meaningful to keep you going through the long hours and high pressure of working in medicine.
When you’ve got the opportunity to provide better care to your patients by operating your own practice, it’s essential that your plans are well-built and carefully executed so that you can keep your business healthy enough to help your patients be healthy as well.