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9 Key Steps to Take When Setting Up a Medical Practice

AUTHOR: SyberScribe, February 13th, 2020

Starting a medical practice? After so many years of studying medicine, it’s one of the best ways to take the practice of medicine into your own hands. However, just like any other business, setting up your own medical practice can be a challenging process. There are many important things you must do and getting it right the first time will save you money and headaches in the long run. That’s why we’ve put together this checklist of the key things you should do when setting up a medical practice.

1. Create a business plan

A business plan will not only help you stay on track with your goals, it’ll also help you obtain financing. It should include your vision for the practice and how to reach it, plus all the legal and financial matters you need to deal with. It should also include strategies for your business structure (eg sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company), hiring and retention, marketing and growth, your premises, and processes.

When creating your business plan, seek advice and guidance from professionals with experience launching medical practices to help you save money and avoid costly mistakes. This includes a certified public accountant, business attorney, business coach, insurance agent, financial planner, and investment advisor.

2. Organise legal and financial matters

The legal and financial matters you should organise include:

  • Getting an ABNApply for an Australian Business Number (ABN) to register your practice as a legal business entity.
  • Taking out insurance – You’ll need insurance for your business, life, health, accident and illness, disability, medical liability or indemnity, malpractice, worker’s compensation, and group benefits. Insurance protects you, your employees and your practice, and provides peace of mind.
  • Managing tax affairs Apply for a tax file number (TFN) for your business so the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) collects the right amount of tax from you. Also consult an accountant on a tax plan to take advantage of low company tax rates and increased small business income tax offsets.
  • Securing finance – A medical practice can cost anywhere from $30,000 to $500,000, so look at banks and investors for financing the initial cost of your premises, technology, equipment, and staff. Consider your goals and the pros and cons when looking at loan options, and ask about hidden costs.
  • Obtaining licenses – A state medical license permits you to legally practice medicine and a narcotic license allows you to manufacture narcotic drugs. You can get them from the government and other medical governing bodies.
  • Becoming an accredited general practice – Register for general practice accreditation so that your premises is accredited for medical use. The assessment process ensures your practice meets a high standard of safety and quality.

3. Determine what services to offer

There are plenty of services you can offer and that you’ll need to run your practice smoothly, efficiently and compliantly, such as:

  • Credit card processing services – This allows patients to pay at the point of care.
  • Background check services – You can check the criminal and employment histories, certifications, and licenses of your employees.
  • Online fax services – This uses the global IP network to send a fax, which is basically sending images of documents over the Internet.
  • Payroll services – This’ll help you manage employee wages, work hours, income taxes, and pay cheques.
  • Ancillary services – Offering bone density tests onsite, for example, could help you make extra money, differentiate yourself from the competition, and keep your patients happy.

Once you’ve determined the services you’ll provide, develop a fee schedule that lists all your services and the amount you’ll charge for each.

4. Choose a location

When choosing a location, you should consider whether your practice will be close to your target market (eg families, young singles, the elderly, or all of them). If the practice is close to local amenities, it could bring in more traffic. Also check if there are any competitors in the area and if property prices are affordable.

Additionally, you should consider whether the practice has good visibility from the main road and if it’s easy to access (ie there’s a carpark nearby, public transport in the area, and handicap access).

5. Hire employees

You can’t run a medical practice on your own, so you’ll need to hire employees. You should hire competent staff whose values align with that of the practice so everything runs smoothly and efficiently. This includes hiring a reliable practice manager and support staff (eg medical billers and coders, front desk staff, doctors, nurses, medical assistants).

Once everyone you need is on board, you should implement practice policies to prevent liabilities, such as appropriate staff behaviour, proper equipment handling, and effective management. What’s more, provide ongoing training for your staff to ensure exceptional patient care.

6. Implement a medical billing system

A medical billing system allows you to handle coding and patient collections, and it lets your staff oversee the billing process. Your staff can use the system to submit insurance claims, as well as respond to rejected or denied claims to get the money that’s due to your practice.

The medical billing process involves collecting patient co-pays or a flat membership fee for medical services, and then billing the patient’s health insurance company in order to receive reimbursements for services rendered.

On the other hand, you can choose to outsource your medical billing to a third-party company, but make sure to do your due diligence.

7. Invest in the right technology and software

Having the right technology and software is important for securely managing patient information, efficiently organising appointments and follow ups, providing convenient communication between staff and patients, and monitoring finances, billing, and coding.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Electronic health record (EHR) system.
  • Practice management system.
  • Medical accounting software.
  • Patient engagement technology (eg apps, portals, automated check-in tools).
  • Secure messaging, SMS, and email reminders.
  • Payment gateways.

Additionally, you’ll need a voice recorder to dictate patient visits, patient charts, and medical reports for medical transcription. If you’ll be doing your own transcriptions, you should get a voice-recognition software that transcribes audio files to reduce the workload. On the other hand, you can choose to outsource your medical transcription services.

8. Obtain medical equipment and tools

You’ll need medical equipment and tools to do your job and run your practice properly. This includes:

  • Equipment – Stethoscope, exam table, patient bed, and blood pressure monitors.
  • Hardware – Computers, phones, credit card machine, and printer/scanner/fax machine.
  • Supplies – Gloves, ointments, syringes, scalpels, antibacterial wipes, gauze, and tongue depressors.
  • Services – Utilities, phone, and Internet.
  • Clothing – Staff uniforms, lab coats, name tags, and patient gowns.
  • Furnishings – Chairs, tables, TV, and decorations.

9. Market your practice

Marketing your practice can help you reach potential clients, get your practice’s name out there, and build a strong referral network. You should market your practice both offline and online, like in newspapers and magazines, and by creating a website and social media pages (eg Facebook or Twitter). You can also network with colleagues by joining a medical association, or participate in community outreach activities (eg give a speech at community gatherings or host a health fair at a park).

Ready to set up your medical practice?

With this checklist in hand, the process of setting up your medical practice should go as smoothly as possible. It won’t be easy, but with some dedication and determination, you should be able to open a thriving practice that you’ll love working in.

And don’t forget to choose the right medical transcription service for your new medical practice. You can save time and money transcribing medical audio files by outsourcing your medical transcription services to SyberScribe. With fast turnaround times and accurate transcriptions, contact us today for your transcription needs.