doctor talking with a patient

Starting a medical practice and the journey towards accepting your first patient can be both rewarding and stressful at times. Having your own clinic that you’ve worked hard for is a big accomplishment, and the road to success in owning your own business can be so worthwhile. Starting a private medical practice takes some time, so if you are wondering where to begin or what the best tips are, discover more about the adventure that many medical doctors embark on.

What are the steps to start a medical practice?

There are many steps to take in order to start a medical practice. These steps can include attaining the proper licenses, coming up with a business plan, a name for the practice, the practice model, sorting out finances, getting insurance, seeking the best location, and stocking your clinic with the right medical supplies and equipment. The road to starting a medical clinic can be a lot of work and preparation, but when you take things step by step the journey can be enjoyable. Here is a checklist for starting a medical practice, and all the things you need to do before you open your doors:

Licensing

Starting with licensing, you are going to need more than just your medical license for the branch of medicine you will be working under. To own and operate your own medical practice, you are going to need a National Provider Identification number, a license to prescribe drugs, a laboratory license to operate a lab in your office, along with other specific credentials that pertain to your field of medicine and the service you wish to provide.

Insurance

In order to successfully operate a business and especially one that deals with patients of any kind, you need insurance and liability in case anything goes wrong. Insurance is very important, especially since you are not a part of a large healthcare corporation who has their own lawyers for legal issues that may arise. Caring for your patients is top priority, but you and your license should also be cared for from the insurance and liability coverage. If you plan on having employees work for you, you might also want to shop around for benefits like healthcare insurance.  

Business Plan & Structure

For any type of business, you need a business plan. Items in a business plan can include an executive summary, an industry analysis, a marketing plan, a management plan, a financial plan, and the order of operations. Doing extensive research on the type of medical practice you wish to open is essential before moving further. Think about the specific needs in the area you wish to practice in, the types of patients you wish to help, and how competitive the current climate is for the type of medicine you want to provide. As much as this new clinic will be a medical office for people who need care, it’s also a business where you will make a living. You want to make sure you are in the perfect location, offer the care people need, and attract new patients with the right marketing tactics. Along with the business plan, you need to choose your business structure. These can include:

  • Solo practice
  • Partnership operation
  • Corporation operation
  • Group practice

Once you determine the type of business to operate under, you can come up with a business name and logo! Some tips to make your business stand out when coming up with the name is to make sure people can easily remember it. Short and simple names are easier to remember, as well as names that are easy to pronounce. That way, no one is confused and is confident when talking about your practice with others. The name of your business should also agree with your approach to medicine and your personal brand as a doctor. The type of care you give should align with the name of the clinic. Lastly, you want to make sure the name you settle on is available as a website domain and is available on social media if you wish to use it for marketing. Having everything under the same name is important so that patients don’t get confused, and people can search for you easily and can reference it quickly.

Financial Plan

Having a financial plan when opening up a medical practice is very important. Just like other types of businesses, setting up financial accounts for loans, payroll, investments, and savings can help keep your business stable. Having these accounts and keeping them up to date can set you up for success later on. Keeping track of your spending for tax reasons is very important and making sure you are spending money on business-related items can help for tax reasons later on.

Medical Supplies & More

Once all of the behind-the-scenes items are checked off the list and you have your physical office, you are ready to start shopping for medical supplies and equipment for your new clinic! Buying medical supplies in bulk is a great way to stock up, especially if you are on a budget. W.B. Mason offers bulk medical supplies for low prices with fast delivery services. Of course, the items you need are going to vary based on the type of office you are operating, but may include popular medical items such as:

  • Bandages
  • Drapes and sheets
  • Face masks and shields
  • First Aid Kits
  • Medical chart folders
  • Rubber and latex gloves

Along with supplies to care for patients, you are also going to need furniture for your medical office. Office furniture such as a desk and chairs for the doctor’s personal office, as well as chairs and tables for the waiting room. Front desk furniture is necessary as well, along with chairs and tables for the exam rooms.

Opening a medical office this day in age requires advanced office technology that can store lots of medical data, patient information, and files to keep track of everything for the business. With everything from computers, multi-function printers, batteries, mice, keyboards, and more, W.B. Mason has great technology brands at great prices for your new medical practice.

Safety equipment is also important to have in a medical office for your safety, and the safety of everyone who enters the building. Items such as defibrillators and pads, a hands-free door opener, signs of all kinds, and personal protective equipment are all examples of safety equipment to have in the office.

General office supplies will be needed at the front desk for things like booking appointments, making notes, filing data, and keeping the office organized. Things like pens, calendars, envelopes, file folders and Post-it® Notes will be helpful when business starts to pick up.

Finding Employees

As a doctor, you cannot manage all aspects of the clinic on your own. You need a receptionist to take care of the appointments, to answer questions, and to greet patients when they enter the office. You need nurses or medical assistants to take vitals and ask preliminary questions before you as the provider completes the exam. If you are operating a lab, you might also need lab technicians to test the samples and report on the data that is collected. Since this clinic is also a business, you might want to hire an office manager to take care of the day-to-day operations, as well as hire an accountant or payroll person to do the finances for you.

How long does it take to start a medical practice?

Starting a solo medical practice does not happen overnight and can sometimes take years to attain. For instance, getting your medical license and medical degree takes at least four years if not longer, which is the first thing people typically do before they open up a medical practice. Getting all of the certifications, billing services, background checks, the health record system you wish to use, among other things can take time. Making sure everything is done correctly and legally is most important, and you want to make sure that you don’t skip or breeze through steps to make your life easier. Patients are going to be trusting you with their health, so you want to make sure you are giving them the best care in the best facility.

Is it hard to start a medical practice?

Just like opening up any type of business, starting a medical private practice is difficult. It may be a long road, but once everything is complete and you are ready to start accepting patients, you are on your way to achieving your dreams. Opening a new medical practice is a great accomplishment and can be a fantastic learning opportunity which might lead to additional offices down the road.

Why would someone want to start a medical practice?

Starting a medical clinic that is not associated with a large chain of healthcare offices or one that isn’t linked to a big hospital can be a common thought among doctors, especially when they first get their medical degree. Wanting to open a private medical facility or office is a great alternative solution for most doctors who want their own autonomy when it comes to providing for their patients. Having complete control over everything such as the decision making, the methods you practice with, and even the financial choices when it comes to the equipment you purchase is a large reason why doctors go off on their own. Private practicing doctors have the freedom to care for their patients the way they want.

Doctors also tend to work grueling hours. As a private practicing doctor, you can make your own schedule in order to achieve a sustainable work-life-balance. No more overnight shifts if you can help it, and ample breaks throughout the day for a meal or staff meetings can really help maintain the love you have for medicine. Large chains of healthcare offices tend to have the typical business hours, but if you are running your own office, you have the freedom to make the schedule which can help patients who can’t always get to the office during business hours. You can also make appointment times longer or shorter if needed, and really go in depth with the patient instead of trying to get to the next patient.

How profitable is it to start a medical practice?

The initial cost of starting a medical practice might deter someone from actually doing it, but once you are seeing patients at a regular rate, you can become pretty profitable. Of course, it all depends on factors such as your location, the cost of living in that location, the type of medicine you are providing, as well as the competition around you.

As a private practicing doctor, you might not make as much money as you would in a hospital or working for a healthcare chain, but the benefits of having your own practice can make up for it. If you own and operate your own business, you are staffing your own employees, making changes to the building if things break, purchasing your own equipment and supplies, and so on. On the other hand, you are changing the way your patients view the healthcare system, attaining a great work-life-balance, creating a positive environment for new patients, and doing things the way you want. There are pros and cons to starting a medical business, but don’t let profit persuade you one way or the other. If you have a passion for practicing medicine, take matters into your own hands, and follow your dreams.

What makes a successful medical practice?

Medical practices can become successful in many ways. The first and probably the best indicator of a successful private practice is how often new patients find your office and make an appointment because they heard of you through word of mouth. New patients, clients, customers, or consumers of any kind coming to a business via word of mouth means that you are doing things right. A patient told their friend or family member about your practice, recommended it to them, and now they are making an appointment. Another way to determine your success is through social media or your online presence. Reviews are also a great way to see how your patients view your business and if they are getting good care from you. If your patients continue to come to you and you still get new patients on a regular basis, keep it up.

If you aren’t seeing the success rate you would like to, maybe ask patients what they think you could do better as their provider and make some changes to reflect their thoughts. Customers of any kind like to be heard, and if you can make those changes, you might see more success sooner rather than later. Social media is also a great way to reach new patients. If you aren’t using social media platforms such as Facebook or Instagram, a suggestion would be to hire a social media manager to get the word out there a bit more. You’d be surprised with what happens after a couple months of regular posting online.

Following Your Heart Can Lead to Great Things

While the journey to owning your own medical practice takes a lot of time, money, and hard work, the result is worth it. Doctors who are also business owners are special people who care deeply for others and want to make a difference in the community. They care about patient’s time, feelings, and bodily autonomy and at the end of the day want the very best for them. If you are a medical doctor and have a dream to open your own practice, follow your heart and things will eventually fall into place. Doctors and medical professionals in all types of work environments are extraordinary people who are always doing what is best for their patients.

Business News Daily. How to Open a Private Medical Practice, Step by Step. (https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/8910-opening-a-medical-practice) Accessed August 5, 2022.

Huckleberry Insurance. How to start a medical practice in 13 steps. (https://huckleberry.com/blog/starting-a-medical-practice) Accessed August 5, 2022.

Shipware. What Are the Best Packaging Materials for Shipping? (shipware.com/blog/what-are-the-best-packaging-materials-for-shipping/) Accessed August 5, 2022.

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