How to Start a Medical Practice: Checklist

Mar 23, 2023 • 10+ min read
Doctor giving employee a COVID-19 vaccine shot
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      If you’re thinking of starting a medical practice, you’re in superb company, as the American Medical Association estimates that around 49% of doctors in the U.S. run their own private medical practice. While starting your own medical practice may seem like a daunting task, you may want to start your own because:

      1. You want to have autonomy over the kind of patient care you provide as a physician
      2. You want to set your own work hours, to work as little or as much as you need to
      3. You want a business that is flexible enough to be present for your children, elderly loved ones, or other dependents you need to care for.

      All these are wonderful reasons to start a medical practice, and in this post, we will provide you with a step-by-step checklist to help you start your practice on the right foot. We will touch on how to:

      1. Create a business plan for your practice
      2. Obtain funding for initial expenses
      3. Consult with a business attorney
      4. Get your licenses and credentials in order for a smoother registration experience
      5. Secure a location for your practice
      6. Register with insurance companies
      7. Get start-up equipment
      8. Hire and train staff
      9. Devise a marketing strategy
      10. Launch your medical practice and what to do after launch

      Let’s delve into the checklist.

      A checklist for starting a medical practice: Before you launch.

      1. Create a business plan.

      Just the thought of putting together a business plan can scare away would-be business owners. But the truth is, a medical practice is a business. Creating a business plan that captures the objectives for your business is a must to provide your medical practice with a sense of direction, optimize your business for growth, help you document the strategies that help ensure that your practice becomes profitable, and get the funding you need to start.

      2. Obtain funding

      Now that you have your business plan, it is time to obtain funding for your medical practice. Until you’ve established consistent revenue streams, you will need to obtain funding to cover:

      • Payroll
      • Medical equipment
      • Software
      • Rent for your office space
      • Vendors (Ex: medical billing, lab testing, and medical transcription vendors, if not covered by your in-house team)
      • Business registration costs 
      • Taxes

      While the exact amount you need might differ based on several factors including the specialty of your practice, location, and the equipment you need, according to The Startup DPC, starting a modest two-room primary care office with one employee could require up to $21,000 in start-up costs.

      3. Consult with a business attorney. 

      It would be a shame to start a thriving medical practice only for an expensive lawsuit to shut it all down. During the pre-launch period, it is wise to get in touch with an attorney who specializes in helping medical businesses. An experienced attorney will not only help you with the complicated process of having your medical practice legally set up in your state. They will also be able to help you with things like employee and patient contracts, as well as advise you on the kind of malpractice insurance you might need to protect your practice.

      4. Get your licenses and credentials in order.

      To provide proof to your state, you will need to produce your medical school diploma and copies of board certifications required for your specialty. Thus, it is important to have these documents handy as you prepare to start your medical practice. Besides proof of your medical education, license, and board certifications, you will also need to gather the following documents for some of the steps that follow in this checklist.

      • Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) license
      • Controlled Dangerous Substance license
      • Malpractice insurance documentation
      • Explanation of any past malpractices 

      Obtaining and/or gathering all these documents will make it easier when you have to submit them at the relevant step in the process. They are especially critical when the time comes for you to be credentialed, so you can be reimbursed by insurance companies for your services.

      5. Secure the location for your medical practice.

      A medical practice that is easily accessible by your patients is important as you choose and secure a location for your medical practice. Choosing the right space for your practice will also take into consideration factors like:

      • Storage for medical equipment you will be using
      • Consulting room/office space
      • Space for exam rooms
      • A reception/intake area for patients

      6. Register with insurance companies.

      In order to receive third-party reimbursement for the care you provide within your medical practice, you will need to be registered with insurance companies. In order for this to happen, you must be credentialed.

      While the credentialing process might differ slightly from state to state, here are five things you will absolutely need in order to be credentialed.

      1. Apply for and obtain a Tax ID from the Internal Revenue Service. An attorney or accountant will usually be able to help you with this.
      2. Register for a Type 2 National Provider Identifier.
      3. Register for a bank account under the legal name of your medical practice.
      4. Look for and settle on the location that will house your medical practice
      5. Obtain malpractice insurance.

      7. Get start-up equipment for your medical practice.

      You will need to outfit your office with the standard medical equipment mandated by your state, as well as the pieces of equipment that will allow you to provide the best care to your patients.

      Equipment you often need before you open your doors include:

      1. An AED (automated external defibrillator)
      2. Basic diagnostic tools, like pulse oximeters, thermometers, blood pressure cuffs, stethoscopes, otoscopes, and flash lights
      3. Scales 
      4. Height rods
      5. Exam tables
      6. Disinfecting sprays and wipes
      7. Hand washing supplies, like hand soap and hand sanitizers
      8. Containers for used sharps 
      9. Containers for biohazard waste
      10. Partitions and privacy screens
      11. Personal protective equipment, including gloves, face masks/shields, and gowns
      12. An EKG unit
      13. Computers for charting
      14. UV lighting

      You will also need medical practice management software to help your practice manage billing, health records, scheduling, and more.

      Learn more about our medical equipment financing to help you meet your medical equipment needs for your practice. 

      8. Hire and train staff.

      Hiring the staff you need for your medical practice will depend on what your needs are. Perhaps, to get started, all you need is a medical assistant to help you take initial medical histories when your new patients start coming in.

      If you need more than that, it is often worth hiring a registered nurse (RN) or licensed practical nurse (LPN/LVN) to help you. Once you’ve hired the appropriate staff, it is worth taking the time to train your staff on your expectations and even your philosophy for providing medical care before you launch. Having a receptionist to handle incoming calls and schedule appointments is also helpful.

      9. Devise a marketing strategy for your medical practice.

      Every successful business has a marketing strategy. The list below is not exhaustive, but here are six great ways to market your medical practice, even before you launch.

      Establish a website.

      Websites are still essential. Think about your own actions. What is one of the things you do when one of your friends tells you about a new business? You will likely use Google, review sites, and other tools to look them up online and be directed to their website. Having your website up before launch day ensures you will be found on search engines and introduces potential patients to your medical practice and the staff that will be serving them. 

      Set up your social media pages.

      A recent survey by Patients Like Me, found that 11% of U.S. adults surveyed say they turn to social media for health information. With over a billion users logging into social media sites on a daily basis, it makes sense for your medical practice to create pages on popular social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Social media is another avenue for potential patients to discover your practice and receive accurate health information. And it is helpful that several social media platforms have tools that are geared toward business owners. Furthermore, if you ever decide to run ads on a social media platform, having an account will come in handy.

      Set up email marketing.

      Stay in touch with your patients between visits or send them special sales messages with a monthly newsletter. Email marketing can be a great way to stay top of mind with your patients.

      Claim local listings.

      Search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo allow businesses to claim their businesses online and create local listings. If you have a location, claiming your local listing for your medical practice is a great way to get the word out there about your business.

      Direct mailers

      Some people will never find out about your practice without direct mail sent to their homes. Don’t leave these people out of your marketing!

      Join your local Chamber of Commerce.

      You will meet other business owners at your local chamber of commerce meeting. In addition, it’s a good way to become involved in your local community while spreading the word about your new practice.

      Launching your medical practice (and what to do post-launch).

      Congratulations! You’ve done a lot of heavy lifting, and now your medical practice is successfully launched. Now it’s time to begin establishing those systems and processes you laid out during the pre-launch period. This is your time to shine as a medical practitioner and provide your best care.

      As your first patients begin to come in, now is a good time to start working with a medical billing company to ensure your services are billed correctly and collected. 

      This is also when you start building your reputation as a business. During the post-launch period, sign up with review websites like HealthGrades or RateMDs. People who want to leave reviews on these websites will be able to do so easily if you’re registered already. 

      It is important to realize that, no matter what you do as a business owner, there are some people who will leave a bad review on either of these websites or even on your Google Local Listing. This may likely not happen during your first few weeks as a business, but it will happen. If you’re registered on these review websites, you will be able to control the conversation somewhat and provide a public explanation and/or apology to the unhappy patron.

      You’ve got this!

      Starting a medical practice can seem daunting. While there will be plenty of other things to do to succeed in your new endeavor, this checklist will help you get your medical practice off to a great start. 

      For many people who want to start their own medical practice, a lack of funding is often an obstacle. Don’t let that get in your way. Learn how you could get the money you need to fund your medical practice or get the medical equipment you need to start today.

      About the author
      Gertrude Nonterah

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