How do you make a successful clinic?
A Step-by-Step Guide to Opening a Successful Private Clinic
The healthcare industry has undergone a sea change in the last few years. More and more patients are moving away from small private clinics to large healthcare organizations. In this scenario, opening your own private clinic can seem like harakiri. But there is still genuine scope to rise above the challenges and succeed. By taking things one step at a time and making smart decisions, it is still possible to set up a successful private medical clinic and enjoy all the benefits of being self-employed.
Please continue reading to get a broad idea of what's involved in setting up a small business in the healthcare field. Our hope is that this information will help you formulate a plan for your private practice and set yourself up for future growth.
Why open your own practice?
The healthcare industry is on a consolidation drive. The risks, expenses, and difficulties involved with opening a private practice are forcing many physicians to be employed by large healthcare systems and big-name hospitals. For many doctors, especially those with large student loans from medical school, this is the only realistic choice. But many other physicians who can potentially go this route find themselves wondering - Why should I expose myself to the risk and trouble of starting my own private practice when I can take a well-paying job at a hospital with established operations?
The one-word answer is autonomy. At your private clinic, you're free to determine your working hours, do things your way, and be your own boss. The connection with your patients that comes with the ownership of your medical clinic cannot be matched by larger hospitals. And the healthcare landscape also benefits. For example, a private clinic can help expand health care services to areas that are currently underserved.
The good news is that it is possible to run a successful private medical clinic. All you need is the right information and some smart decision making. Keep reading to learn more about how to open a private medical practice - step by step.
How do you make a successful clinic?
Here is a step-by-step guide to opening a successful private clinic:
Start with a Business Plan
Every successful small business starts with a business plan. A business plan is an outline of your precise goals as well as forecasts and predictions. This is not only your guide in planning your private clinic, but also an important document needed to obtain financing.
To develop a business plan, you need to perform a detailed market analysis so you can define your target audience (the type of clients or patients you want to attract). You also need to project your expenses and set milestones in terms of the revenue you want to achieve. Plus how you will go about accomplishing this.
A good business plan includes potential challenges and possible solutions to overcome then. Anticipating problems makes it easier to navigate them, should they arise. Lastly, your business plan should include your healthcare marketing strategy, including how you plan to brand your medical clinic, what you plan to do to get new patients, and how you will use marketing to build a successful private medical practice.
If all this feels overwhelming, an attorney or business strategist can help.
Pick a Location for Your Medical Clinic
When you start looking for the location of your new clinic, the excitement will start to build. You will be able to see all your dreams coming to fruition. But one misstep here could have long-term repercussions. You must keep several factors in mind when deciding on a location for your practice. One of the most important is your target audience. A medical practice has a greater chance of succeeding if it is located close to its clients.
Additional factors to consider are aesthetics and perception. For instance, if you are an aesthetic provider, it may be worthwhile to spend a little extra to be located on prime real estate. An inviting atmosphere will draw patients to your medical clinic. Not to mention you will be spending a lot of time at your medical practice too. The space should be designed to facilitate a smooth workflow and be comfortable for patients.
Also take into account practical aspects like parking spaces and accessibility. For instance, if you are opening an urgent care center that will provide affordable healthcare to an impoverished community, you will need to take into account things like accessibility by public transport.
Rent vs. purchase? That's impossible to answer without knowing where you are located. But in general, it is always best to rent first and see how things pan out. You can opt to purchase the property down the road after you have built a successful private practice.
Your business plan should include the expenses, debt projections, and anticipated revenues for your medical clinic. You also need to include all expenses, including equipment, medical supplies, office supplies, staffing, etc. Stay conservative when purchasing equipment and plan to upgrade once you have built a successful private clinic.
It's important to be realistic because bankers can see through unrealistic projections in a heartbeat. You will need data to back up your projections for at least 3 years and maybe even 5 years into the future.
Seek Advice from a Business Consultant
If you took a loan to get through medical school, obtaining financing can be tricky. This is why your business plan is such an important document. It can make or break your chances of getting a loan. Which is why it is usually worth it to hire an expert business strategist who specializes in the healthcare industry and have them develop your business plan for you. You should also plan to shop around for business loans and carefully examine the terms in any offers you receive. Some financial institutions have a healthcare division that understands the challenges faced by physicians - if you can identify such an institution in your country it will improve your chances of securing a small-business loan.
Analyze the Competition
Market research is critical to the success of your new medical clinic. It's about taking a step back and examining the current state of the market in your location. Some of the questions you need to find answers to include - How many other practices are offering similar services in the area? Which ones are successful and which ones are struggling? What are the reasons for their success or failure? What are the gaps in the market (services not available nearby)? Are there clients who are not being served? What are the current healthcare trends? What are the projections for the next 5-10 years?
Market analysis will help you understand your community and target clients. For instance, you don't want to set up a pediatric clinic in an area with a predominantly retired population. In fact, you should perform periodic analysis of your competition as well as the demographics in your neighborhood even after you are an established a successful private clinic, because populations change over time.
After your financing comes through and you've zeroed in on a location for your medical practice, you will need to start purchasing equipment. You're the expert when it comes to medical equipment, but it may help to analyze what services other practices in the area are offering and attempt to fill in the gaps. Leasing medical equipment is an option if you need to cut initial costs. And don't forget all the office supplies that you will need to conduct business.
While you may be able to search online for tips on designing the interiors, including furniture, most physicians need expert help in deciding the communications system for their medical clinic. Here are some of the software and services you will need to have in place before you see your first patient -the tools of the trade so to speak:
- Electronic medical record system
- Practice management system
- Medical billing services
- Medical transcription services
- Background check services for staff
- Credit card processing
With some research, the right information, and a little planning, you can set yourself up for success.
Hire the Right People
No physician can run a busy private clinic by themselves. All successful medical practices have one thing in common - employees who are as invested in the medical clinic as the owner. Which is why hiring the right people is so important. Unfortunately, it is easier said than done. And when doctors hire the wrong person for the job, the risks can be high.
Don't be intimidated to hire people who are smarter than you. Focus on hiring individuals who are good at what they do and share your values. And keep in mind that a pleasant disposition and good communication skills are very important in the healthcare field.
Hiring a good team is a foolproof method to guarantee the growth of your private clinic. A professional who does their job well and shares the burden of responsibility with you will be worth every penny you pay them. One thing is certain, investing in a top-quality team, whether it is management or clinical, will make your life easier and increase your chances of success.
Complete Compliance Requirements
While you are waiting for financing to come through and the infrastructure for your medical practice to be built, you can tackle some of the essential steps in starting your medical clinic, including compliance requirements. These include:
- Signing a lease for your private clinic
- Hiring a contractor to modify the space
- Incorporating as a legal entity and obtaining a tax ID
- Buying liability and medical malpractice insurance
- Credentialing with payers
- Establishing standard operating procedures and policies
- Completing compliance documentation
- Developing the workflow for daily operations, including appointments, followup visits, billing process, cash payments, credit card payments, staff payroll, and administrative work
- Signing up with technology systems such as mobile apps to enhance the patient experience at your medical practice
Practices must also plan to periodically review these processes so that they don't become antiquated.
Plan the Opening
If you've reached this stage of opening your own private clinic, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed because you haven't seen a dime in compensation - yet. But hang in there. You're getting close to the finish line! All the blood, sweat, and tears are soon going to show results. It will all be worth it when you cut that ribbon and welcome the first clients or patients to your very own medical clinic. Give yourself a pat on the back because not many healthcare providers can accomplish this in the modern healthcare industry. And now to plan the grand opening!
Do something for the community
Free first aid classes, blood pressure screenings, skincare seminars.... get creative and offer a hook that will attract potential clients and patients to your event. You can also partner up with local businesses, such as a local health food store with high footfalls, to get the word out - there's a new physician in town!
Approach local leaders
Reach out to your mayor, city council member, representative, or senator for the ribbon cutting ceremony. Politicians love the attention, especially at an event that is bringing quality health care to their constituents.
Invite the press
After you have a hook and celebrity ribbon cutter in place, it will be easy to get the local press interested. Invite local reporters from the print and digital media, call TV reporters and radio stations, and put out a press release to for your medical practice opening event.
Get Feedback from Clients
In the early days of your medical practice, it is essential that you get feedback from your patients. You need to know how you compare to other medical practices in the area. You can leverage the information obtained from your patients to fine-tune your services. You should work with your practice manager and staff to smooth out any kinks in your processes.
Explicitly asking for feedback is the best way to get accurate information about what's working and what isn't and use that to improve your medical clinic with specific actions.
And, as time goes on, do not rest on your laurels. Seek to improve constantly by obtaining regular feedback from your clients about how you’re doing and what changes they want to see at your medical practice.
Prioritize Quality Healthcare Delivery
We don't need to remind you of this - quality health care is the cornerstone of a successful private clinic. It is the core of any successful business. Your patients must get genuine value from coming through your door.
Focus on customer service. From the front office staff, practice manager, and administrative and management personnel to clinical staff including nurse practitioners and medical assistants, everyone must remember that in the increasingly competitive health care business, there is no room for mediocrity.
Providing patients with an exceptional experience at your medical practice should be a constant endeavor. Remember, one slip up or wrong move can undo years of hard work, so everyone needs to stay on their toes.
Decide on a Billing Process
For any medical facility, billing is what brings in the revenue. And besides, it affects workflow and patient satisfaction at your private clinic. That's why the type of billing system you implement is of vital importance. Don't cut corners in using technology for billing processes. You may also want to consider outsourcing your billing if you are understaffed. If you are doing it in-house, make sure you use a good billing software that will ensure every dime makes it to your bank account.
Build a Website for Your Clinic
There is hardly a business that can succeed without the internet. Nearly half of the world's population is now online. Digital marketing, online advertising, and social media are therefore essential components of a successful private clinic.
That's why you need to set up a website for your medical clinic as soon as possible. You also need to get on social media and engage with current and potential patients, preferably every day. These are cost-effective ways to promote your practice. There's also a lot you can do to increase the chances of people finding your medical clinic on the internet, such as writing a blog so Google ranks you higher. It is common now for medical practices to offer useful and accurate information on trending health care topics online - this helps to build trust and rapport and attracts potential patients to the office.
Market your Medical Practice
After all the preparations for opening your medical clinic and the hustle and bustle of treating your first patients, it can be easy to forget about marketing your practice. But marketing and advertising are critical to your success. You cannot rely on physician referrals alone to get new patients.
That's why, when you plan the opening of your medical practice, a key consideration is planning for ongoing marketing efforts. Besides a professional website that is mobile-friendly, consider paid online advertising or undertake a direct mailing campaign, depending on the demographics in your area. This will make potential patients aware of your presence in the community and tell them about the treatments you provide. Last but not least, don't forget to list your business on online directories, such as Google My Business, and perhaps even advertise on online health care channels in your community.
That's all there is to say. You now have a good idea of what you need to set up a successful private clinic. We've given you the scaffold, and while it is not fool-proof, it is a guide that will help you take the first steps in a successful way.
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