Setting up a medical practice on the wrong foot can have long-lasting negative consequences. It involves making critical mistakes such as inadequate planning, poor financial management, ineffective communication with patients and staff, insufficient staff training, and neglecting legal and regulatory requirements. By neglecting these essential elements, a medical practice can quickly encounter operational challenges, financial instability, dissatisfied patients, and strained relationships with staff and regulatory authorities, leading to a compromised reputation and diminished success.
At HMR we spend a lot of time partnering with medical professionals in the Twin Cities, helping them maximize the potential of a new practice and get the most out of their working hours. Much of our efforts center on counseling clinic owners on actions they SHOULD take to have success and achieve an enjoyable work-life balance.
Today we’re going to shift gears a bit and clearly spell out some things that you SHOULD NOT do if you are planning on opening a new practice. We think some of this good advice is good to keep in mind even for established practices whose start-up phase is far in the rear-view.
Just Because It’s Boring Doesn’t Mean You Can Look Past It
One of the biggest mistakes new practices make is not allocating enough time for the credentialing and contracting phase of starting their practice. You only get once chance to have your grand opening and make a first impression; it only makes sense to wait until you have all or at last the vast majority of the insurance companies you want to contract with onboard. Opening too soon can leave you in the poor position of turning potential patients away due to not being compatible with their insurance provider. In an era where consumers pay more attention to their insurance than ever before, you have much to lose and little to gain by rushing the credentialing and contract phase.
Failing to Prepare is Preparing to Fail
It made sense when John Wooden said it and it makes sense now. Nowhere is this ethic more important than making sure you protect your personal legal and financial interests by incorporating your practice. Choosing the right legal entity is a critical step. Opening as a sole proprietorship under your own Social Security Number can open the door to future liability that your family simply cannot afford.
Undercooking the Books
“Cooking the books” can land you in trouble with the IRS and the FBI but leaving your accounting ingredients completely raw can make your whole practice sick.
Get Your Staffing Under Control
Overstaffing and understaffing often plagues new practices. It’s tough to find the right balance when you don’t have a record of patient volumes to guide your staffing decisions. On one hand you don’t want to have long wait times for your new patients; on the other hand you don’t want to pay unnecessary staff to twiddle their thumbs and tweet on their phones.
Bringing on an experienced practice manager can make all the difference in balancing your early staffing needs. They can rely on their previous experience with similar practices as a guide for getting it right early on so your practice can hit the ground running.