Opening Your Own Private Medical Practice in the Digital Age
Although it’s one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll ever have, striking out on your own in the medical industry and opening a private practice is no small feat. You’ll need a vast store of experience and knowledge at the ready, not only related to medical and healthcare treatment, but also about rules and regulations, running a business and being a leader.
While you may want to focus on what matters most — your patients — it’s more likely you’ll be spending less time with them. Why? Because a practice is a business, and that means getting your hands dirty on the administrative side of things. You’ll need to deal with new hires and training, insurance and benefits, customer service and even dabble in some marketing when your office initially opens.
Later, you can hire personnel to handle these elements of your business, giving you a more hands-free role. That’s not going to happen overnight, though.
As if that wasn’t enough, there’s also the issue of modern technologies and the current landscape. Mobile devices, remote computing, big data — all these things are shaping the world we live in, and the medical industry isn’t excluded. Customers and patients now expect to be able to check-in and facilitate health care plans via mobile or online portals. They want instant notifications and customer support in a time of need. Furthermore, they expect efficient, highly personalized health care opportunities, even from the most minor of experiences.
Here you were thinking you were just going to rent office space and start handing out health care.
Don’t let all this discourage you. The point we’re trying to drive home is not that you should avoid opening your own practice, nor that you should be frightened of the prospect, but instead be prepared.
How can you prepare for the investment and training required to run a health care practice in today’s landscape?
Get Your Funds in Order
It doesn’t matter how much money you have — or what you’ve saved up — running and starting a business will likely cost much more. Step one for starting any business is to get your funds in order. Will you be taking out a small-business loan? Will you be borrowing from personal funds, or will you seek investors? How long will your initial capital support you? Where will you be generating most of your revenue, and is it sustainable into the future? How long do you have to pay back any loans or investors?
There are financing options designed specifically for doctors and health care professionals. Take some time to research and understand which opportunities suit you and your future practice best, before making any sudden moves.
Find a Location and Build a Support Structure
Like any business, you’ll need to find a suitable location for your practice. Choose a bad area and you’ll have a tough time finding clients and patients, and you may even face serious financial issues later down the line. Choose a developed or up-and-coming neighborhood and you’ll realize a lot of potential.
You’ll also want to be sure you can network and connect with nearby professionals in the area of your choosing. Are there specialists and other doctors you can build a rapport with? Are there people in the area that would be willing to recommend you and your practice as a suitable place for new patients?
It’s tough to see things that way, but your practice is, for all intents and purposes, a business. You are building a brand, and that means you’ll need to market yourself and your practice to potential audiences. This process begins before you even open your office and step foot inside. Keep that in mind as you search for a suitable location.
Research and Hire Your Team
Depending on your specialty, you could go it alone — but that’s not always ideal. Take some time to research potential partners and colleagues you might want for your team. That includes everyone from lateral doctors and physicians to the nurses that will frequent your office. Furthermore, the forward-facing customer personnel also matters, like office secretaries, account reps, and even vendors.
The beauty of today’s landscape is that you can employ modern technologies and platforms to this end. For example, you could look for potential candidates on social media, or set up a hiring portal on your brand’s official website.
Develop Your Digital Foundation
Before opening your office, come up with a tentative plan for how you want to run things. Be sure to research and factor in modern technologies, even those that aren’t widely used yet.
Would you like your onboarding and patient registration process to be entirely online and mobile-friendly? Do you want to have a big data and analytics system in place to help improve efficiency and identify bottleneck points in your operations? Do you want to have a digital or online database that holds all your records, documents and files, and medical reference materials? Would you like to issue personal health wearables to your patients so you can monitor their activities and general habits?
These may seem like small, inconsequential details, but they’re not. Every single one of these modern examples requires you to establish and develop a technology-oriented foundation. You can’t view and manage personal health data from patient wearables, for instance, if you don’t have a system in place to collect said details and organize it for your review.
Much like you have to construct the building’s foundation, supports, walls and floors, you will need to do the same for your digital operations. It’s best to have a plan in place before you take anything online or open it to the public.
Initially, you will be the one primarily responsible for all operations, activities and decisions. While this generally will never change — it is your practice, after all — you will soon be delegating responsibilities to colleagues and personnel. It is important that you establish accountability for all. When you’re out of the office or busy, who is responsible for making sure the practice remains in optimal condition? Who on your team will be helping you with employee and system management? Who will be primarily responsible for organizing and seeing patients? Who’s going to oversee the appointment and billing departments?
These are things you’ll want to establish and delegate early on, so your office will be running smoothly whether you’re there or not.
Nurture Culture and Positive Support
The stronger the relationships you have with your team, and the stronger the internal culture, the better the support structure will be for your clients and patients. Make sure you have a healthy culture within your office and practice. It goes well beyond respectful and lighthearted interactions with personnel. Loyalty, trust, happiness and even comfort are all important elements of culture.
What do your personnel feel when they spend time in your office? Are they primarily happy, or are they disenchanted when they work?
Establishing a positive and healthy culture goes a long way in creating and providing a successful service for customers. The happier your employees are, the better and more efficient they will be for your customer base.
Success Relies on Your Determination and Dedication
Every business starts with an idea — in this case, it’s borne of your desire to open a private practice and build a great team. However, no organization or brand reaches success without just the right amount of determination, dedication and support — all of which will come from you as a leader.
This guide preaches preparation, and that’s crucial to your success. You must also be willing to invest any and all time and resources to make it a reality. That includes working directly with potential team members and colleagues to build something truly remarkable. It’s possible, and you will do it so long as you remain vigilant.