Practice Management: Starting your own practice

Physicians go into the medical field to practice medicine.  Medical school does not cover topics like hiring staff, finding a good office location, getting referrals or setting up billing systems.  Most doctors would probably admit that they never even wanted to be part of that side of medicine, the business side.  But the business side has great advantages for a physician.  A well-run practice can improve how a physician practices medicine, as it frees up time for research and spending time with patients.

The first steps to opening a practice are the tangible, business-oriented pieces that were not taught in medical school:

Securing loan financing
For those fresh out of residency, with student loan payments still looming, securing a loan to get started can be tricky.  One area that a doctor starting out can turn to is looking in medical journals for companies that specifically loan to physicians.  These types of lending companies typically have a short turnaround of loan approval, usually less than a week.  The loan will be needed for all those essential goods: staff salary the first couple months, computers, medical equipment, and of course, office furnishings.

Finding a space
Taking the time to find a place to start a practice can be tricky.  Looking around at medical campuses can be a good start.  Another area is to call a commercial real estate agent and request he/she to find several locations.   If you are solo, try to determine if your practice will grow to add another doctor or several when looking at business lease options.  It is also wise to hire a lawyer to assist with the business the lease the first go around.

Setting up the office
After the space, the furniture, computers and medical supplies need to be purchased.  One of the most important selections that we have discussed in previous blogs is purchasing software for medical billing, as well as the computers for the billing.  A great place to start for information is in the Physician’s News Digest, which has a section specific for computer advice, Medicine and Technology. This will give new physicians a start in learning about the latest technology needed to run an office successfully.

This is only a start of some the pieces needed to start a practice in today’s changing world of medicine.  A great resource for Practice Management is the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) and their section on Running a Practice.  Next week we will discuss if physicians should incorporate their business.

If you are thinking about setting up your own practice, feel free to contact us for an initial consultation!

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