How To Market a Private Medical Practice.
As a healthcare provider, your mission is to ensure that your patients are receiving high-quality medical care. When it comes to building a patient base, marketing efforts for private medical practices cannot be overlooked. Having multiple marketing strategies in place will put your private medical practice on the map, enticing prospective patients to seek out your care and expertise.
There are many ways to set your private practice up for success. Below, we offer some of the best strategies for ensuring that your private medical practice receives the attention it deserves.
If you’re a practicing physician or have just finished your residency, you may be considering starting your own medical practice. Although it can feel like a daunting task, the truth is, you’ve already completed the hardest part: becoming an MD or DO. Establishing your practice won’t take nearly as long as completing the degree and postgraduate requirements did–nor will it cost as much!
That said, there are some things to consider before you take the steps to starting your own medical practice: time, expenses, and licensing, just to name a few. Establishing your private practice is much like starting any other business: there are many moving parts to consider. But once you have solidified your plan of action and start researching everything you need to know, opening your practice and taking on patients will likely begin to come naturally.
How exactly do you begin? How do you start a medical practice from the ground up?
Here are some things you should keep in mind!
Hire Someone to Help You Get Started
Even doctors need to consult someone else for help every once in a while. With that in mind, you might consider hiring a consultant to help you get organized and explore your options. A consultant can help you identify where you should establish your practice, how you will design the space to meet your needs, how you’ll organize your staff and patient data, and how much this will all cost.
It might also be helpful to hire a personal assistant to help keep you organized throughout the process, especially if you’re already working for another hospital or private practice. Managing your time and energy will keep your mind clear, and keep the task of establishing your own practice from beginning too overwhelming.
When it comes to your medical website design or marketing you should always consider hiring a HIPAA compliant and minded company or consultant.
How Much Does It Cost To Open A Private Medical Practice?
Costs for opening your own practice will depend upon a number of factors. Where you decide to practice will play the biggest role in determining the overall cost, as real estate and property rental fees vary widely from one state to another; even cities within the same state with just a few miles between them can bear different price tags.
How you choose to furnish the practice, the types of benefits you offer your employees, and the number of employees you’ll need to staff your practice are some other major factors that will determine the total cost of starting your practice.
In total, opening a small-sized practice could range anywhere from $70,000 to $100,000 over the course of just a few months. This estimate covers your insurance, start up costs, and your personal expenses for the first quarter that you’re open for business. However, some costs can be reduced depending on what you decide to do yourself.
Assuming that you will require a small business loan to get started, having good credit will save you some of the expense associated with the high interest rates of credit cards or loans. If you’re beginning the planning process now, be sure to take your credit history into consideration.
If your credit is not great, make it a priority to improve it as quickly as you can. With good credit, you might be able to find a low-interest loan that can be structured to require interest-only payments for the first year. In doing this, you should be able to establish a decent revenue-flow and salary before you’re required to begin repayment.
How Long Will it Take?
Assuming that you are already practicing as a physician, you should give yourself about six to nine months of planning time before you expect to open your practice. This will give you time to find an appropriate and convenient location and to renovate it to suit your needs, if necessary. It will also give you time to purchase all of the equipment, furniture and materials you’ll need to be business-ready.
You can also spend this time applying for a business license, acquiring the insurance you’ll need, and establishing standard operating procedures for your day-to-day and special-circumstance operations.
That said, the bulk of these decisions should be outlined in your business plan that you’ll need to apply for your loan.
Not only will a business plan be required to secure a loan; it can also serve as a great foundation for conceptualizing what your practice will look like. The business plan should include at least a few detailed pages articulating your plan for financial growth and the services you’ll offer, among other things. Let’s look at each of these in detail:
- Start with an executive summary. An executive summary is essentially the introduction for your business plan. It should explain your basic business proposal, who it will help or what problem it will solve, your target market, and your financial highlights, like what your major expenses will be, and how you will generate income.
- The company overview. The company overview will expand upon your practice’s mission statement, legal structure, management team, history, and proposed or general location. The mission statement will require you to consider what your real goals are for the business, aside from the financial ones.
- Some information about your services. Expand upon your experience as a doctor and what services you plan to provide at your practice.
- Your marketing plan. For a medical practice, this section is unique. Typically, you’ll want to talk numbers here. You might explain the demographic of your proposed location, what they’re greatest needs will be from a doctor’s office, and how you’ll advertise your services once established. Giving this “numbers portion” of the business plan some context through a story (like, for example, about your grandparents and their aging group of life-long friends and how that translates to the need for a private medical practice) will give you an edge in convincing a loan manager that you’re worth the investment.
- A list of company milestones. In this section, you’ll establish the long and short-term goals that you hope to reach in the future of your practice. This is a good place to determine concrete deadlines, management terms and budgets for the business.
- The management team. If you’re going into business with another doctor or other doctors, this is where you’ll talk about their experience and histories as well. Their educational backgrounds can be showcased here, too. If you have an office manager or other individual in place to manage different aspects of the business (ie: a financial manager, a human resources manager, etc.) this is where you’ll highlight the talents of those people and explain their roles within your company.
- Your financial plan. This can be intimidating for many people. That is hiring a competent personal assistant or accountant may be helpful for this portion of the business plan if it’s overwhelming. To break it down, the financial plan should include the following:
- Profit and Loss statement
- Cash flow statement
- Balance sheet
- Sales Forecast
- Personnel Plan
- Business ratios and break even analysis
(Don’t forget about the office supplies and utilities)
Also It may be helpful to plan for non-payment and if you are going accept private, state medical insurance, medicare, or medicaid.
When considering the staffing requirements for your practice, you’ll need to first consider its size and scope. Like many businesses, you will need employees to operate various aspects of your practice, including reception, billing, accounting, and marketing. You might decide to hire an office manager, or you may delegate multiple responsibilities to various employees with other medical-related responsibilities (like employing multiple nurses who can also answer the phone and schedule appointments).
According to managemypractice.com, the number of employees you will need will depend on a number of factors. Inefficiency creates the need for more hires. If your employees need to leave their desks to handle multiple responsibilities, you’re losing efficiency. The record-keeping and transcription services you use will also determine whether or not you’ll need additional staff to transcribe and file patient records, or whether you’ll spend more initially for software that will save employee costs in the long run.
As your practice grows, it may be practical to have a specific staff member dedicated solely to answering the phone and scheduling appointments. For a budding practice, being able to accommodate new patients in a timely and friendly manner without being rushed or sidetracked is crucial.
Your patient’s first contact with the office will likely be via phone inquiry or email, and having a dedicated staff member to complete those tasks will make the process smoother for a new, or returning, patient. If you miss a new patient’s inquiry, they are much more likely to try a different practice. That is a patient you cannot afford to lose out on!
You will also need to consider whether or not you’ll be a general medicine practice or offer some specialty services. Depending on your type of practice, you may either need a staff member to organize and set up referrals to other doctors, or have specially trained medical staff on duty full or part-time. These could include X-ray technicians or lab technicians, depending on the type of specimens you plan to process in your office.
As a rule of thumb, you’ll want to have enough dedicated triage nurses to greet and process patients as they come in for appointments. You may require a physician’s assistant or other medical practitioners as the volume of your practice grows, or if you plan to operate a fairly large practice from day one. Other staff to consider, based on technology, location and operation size include:
- Medical billing and records staff
- Records and transcriptionist staff
- Marketing, advertising and social media account manager
- Office manager or practice management, if needed
Hiring highly skilled candidates and cross-training employees can help cut down on human resources expenses in the long run. Holding employees to high standards of efficiency is important.
In the beginning, you likely need to closely monitor and modify standard operating procedures in order to find a system that works for your office and needs. Competitive benefits and paid time off will also attract more qualified candidates. This is also another reason to make sure employees are cross trained so that even your small to mid-sized practice can accommodate employee sick and vacation days.
Business Operation and Licensure Requirements
In order to legally practice medicine in your own private practice, there are several licensing (including the obvious medical licenses) and insurance requirements you will need to meet.
One of the first steps you’ll need to take is applying for a National Provider Identifier number. The national provider identifier (NPI) is a HIPAA-required unique identification code that qualifies your practice to accept different insurance types from your prospective patients. More information on how to apply can be found at www.cms.gov.
Your staff members will also need to complete HIPAA and OSHA compliance training prior to practice’s opening. This will ensure that your staff is well-educated on workplace safety operating and reporting procedures and patient confidentiality rights.
Finally, you need to insure your practice; the type of insurance you need will depend upon the nature of your practice. Aside from the standard medical malpractice insurance, you’ll also need to purchase business liability and internal theft coverage.
Insurance rates can vary based on a number of factors, but depend mostly on how many employees will be on your staff. Worker’s compensation insurance can cost upwards of $2000 for a staff of three employees, according to medicaleconomics.com. You may also want to offer health insurance to your employees and make sure that you and your family remain medically insured as you leave your place of employment.
Challenges You May Face
There are many potential challenges in getting your practice off the ground, as is the case with any other type of business. First and foremost, you’ll need to be sure you’ve given yourself enough time to plan. You’ll likely need to work with both your attorney and accountant to draft some of the legal documents and business plan required to get started. Surrounding yourself with a team of professionals that you can trust will take some of the burden off of your shoulders during the startup process.
Finally, remember to take into account any existing contracts you may have signed at your current place of employment. Some employment contracts contain no-competition clauses; as such, you may need to wait it out or have your attorney review the circumstances. Expect delays to occur, especially now that many agencies have employees working remotely for the first time.
Above all else, try to be patient and persistent. Opening your own practice will be challenging, but also rewarding, and doing your research will help create a smoother process for everyone involved!
Bonus: Affordable ways to market
There are plenty of marketing ideas out there both for new and established medical practices. For those looking to keep costs down, focus on marketing strategies that you can personally carry out. Learn how to build great social media and other marketing courses in Udemy.
However, don’t forget about HIPAA when engaging in social media. Design apps like Canva offer free basic graphic creating tools while a basic internet search can teach you how to put out helpful content. If spending money on advertisements is too costly, focus on word-of-mouth marketing and building a loyal patient list and find some networking groups to gain professional relationships that will help promote your business through referrals.
The world of marketing is expansive. Take time to test different strategies and find what works best for your medical practice.
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