Starting a medical practice may seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
In this article, I will walk you through the process with 9 proactive steps that will position you well for success for starting your medical practice.
Whether it’s your own medical practice, surgery center, physician group, or other medical facility, the initial formation can be tricky with state and health care law requirements.
As a business lawyer for entrepreneurs, I’m very familiar with the laws that govern medical businesses.
Even the most educated doctors and physicians need some basic legal help in drafting the protocols and agreements that set the pace for the day-to-day operations in their practice.
With the right legal help to guide you along the way, you’ll be able to enjoy the freedom that comes from working for yourself and doing things your way.
How to Start Your Medical Practice
Keep in mind that the details on starting a medical practice will most likely vary based upon your specialty and the state where you want to practice.
However, I can help you understand all the requirements in your state and help you adjust your plan.
Let’s get started…
#1 Secure Your Finances
Whether it’s through a small business loan or some other form of outside capital, you’re going to need enough money to cover the initial startup costs.
If medical school debt still has your budget stretched, think about financial plans that can help lighten the load – like refinancing some of your student loans.
Your initial budget is likely to be fluid, but be sure you include estimated costs for the following.
- Real estate for your medical practice
- Medical records software
- Employees you’ll need (practice manager, nurse practitioners, accountant, lawyer)
- Ongoing medical supplies (gauze, sterile gloves, bandages, tongue blades, thermometers, syringes/needles, etc.)
- Office furniture
#2 Take Care of Credentialing
To be able to run your medical practice and submit bills to insurers and other agencies, you’re going to need to secure a National Provider Identifier (NPI) number. This 10-digit numeric identification number is issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to healthcare professionals in the U.S.
You’re also going to need to take care of your credentialing with insurance providers of your patients. While this process can take months, it’s a priority.
In most cases, the insurers will want to know about your education and residency. They’ll also want to ensure you are protected by medical malpractice insurance and that you have the correct licensure to practice medicine in your state.
Completing this step is necessary so that you’ll be able to receive payment from government programs like Medicaid and Medicare, as well as private insurance companies like Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna Health, Aetna, and Humana.
#3 Get Your Medical License
While there are diverse requirements for specific specialties, starting your medical practice hinges on you being licensed to practice medicine.
Beyond your NPI, here are the three other licensures you’ll most likely need:
- License to practice in your state. Each state has its own medical board. To find and apply to the one that is relevant to you, follow this link to the Federation of State Medical Boards.
- U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). If you’re a doctor starting your own medical practice, you’ll likely be writing prescriptions for medications. To do this legally in the U.S., you’re going to have to apply for licensure from the DEA.
- Other regulations related to your practice. Depending on what’s included in your practice, you may have to get other licensures. For example, a certification is required if you have an in-office lab. Likewise, much of your medical equipment used for diagnoses will likely have to be registered with your state.
I know the types of certifications that are needed, but finding the right ones that will work correctly for your medical practice will take some input from you.
#4 Set Up Your Professional Corporation
For many professionals, a professional corporation is the only way they can incorporate their services. While professional corporations are similar to larger corporations in many ways, they do have special requirements.
The rules for establishing and maintaining a professional organization vary from state to state, so it’s vital you be clear about what’s required where you live and work.
Because setting up your professional corporation requires following certain legal protocols, we highly recommend for you to have us guide you through the process.
#5 Make Your Electronic Health Record (EHR) Selection
Being able to digitize your patients’ records is simply the way things are done.
Because your EHR will most likely serve as the one-stop-hub for info on your patients’ diagnosis, medical history, lab results, prescription orders, etc., it’s vital that you make the right choice with your EHR.
With your EHR, you’ll be able to share patient information with other providers and organizations, including labs, medical imaging facilities, school and workplace clinics, etc.
#6 Decide How You Want to Handle Billing
As you continue thinking about starting your medical practice, you need to have a firm idea of how you want to get paid.
While many medical professionals choose to have in-house billing operations, others prefer to outsource theirs. There are pros and cons to both approaches.
For example, with in-house billing, you retain control over all financial operations of your practice. Also, when glitches occur, your team is in the perfect position to monitor the problems and fix them on the fly.
On the other hand, it can be less expensive to outsource your billing.
Plus, your billing vendor should be able to provide you with comprehensive financial performance reports on a regularly scheduled basis or on request.
#7 Set Up Your Human Resources
As you consider the staff you want, make a list of the attributes you’re looking for in the ideal person for that position.
No matter your specialty, a successful medical practice is dependent upon having people who understand the patient-doctor relationship and will do their jobs based on that concept.
Whether you need help with reception, billing personnel, nurse, or practice manager, I can help you with identifying the staffing needs as you continue thinking about starting your medical practice.
#8 Establish Your Professional Corporation Website
In an age where most people do much of their shopping – including for medical services – through a Google search, a substantial web presence is essential.
The key is making sure your medical practice ranks high on a prospective patient’s online search.
Having a slick web design with all the bells and whistles is one thing. What good is it doing you, though, if your practice’s site is on the third or fourth page of a Google search?
Making sure your site is optimized is essential is an area where I excel.
Just send me a short email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can brainstorm over how to get your site at the top of the search results.
#9 Market Your Medical Practice
For your practice to thrive, you’re going to need patients.
In addition to thinking about “grand opening events,” it’s key you remember that marketing should be an ongoing effort with your medical practice.
Effective ways of doing this include:
- A solid social media presence
- Hosting open houses
- Starting a patient referral program
- Networking with local hospitals and other medical professionals in your area
- Becoming a “trusted source” for local journalists
- Making sure your website content has good search engine optimization (SEO) techniques so you can be found easier online.
What To Do Next
Most doctors and physicians wanting to start their own practice are filled with the entrepreneurial spirit; they want to do business and practice medicine on their terms.
As a business lawyer for entrepreneurs, I helped more than 3,000 people launch their own business. More than 1,200 appreciated my help so much that they have given me 5.0 Star Google Reviews.
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