When it comes to revenue sources for your medical practice, we tend to think about patient visits only. But there are other avenues to consider tapping into, including looking at federal and private grants. You do not have to be a not-for-profit entity in order to qualify for grants and there are many grants available not predefined. This means these entities accept proposals for projects that you develop, rather than you having to fit the work of a predefined project instead. That allows for a creative approach, and one that can be based off of the most pressing concerns in your patient population or community.
According to the National Institutes of Health, it invests nearly $32.3 billion annually in medical research, 80 percent of which is awarded through almost 50,000 competitive grants. Add to this the numerous private foundations and research organizations that also fund projects and you begin to see some of the possibilities. Getting started with grant sourcing can require patience and tenacity, but the benefits can be well worth it. Here are some tips below to get your practice onto the 'grant track.'
What Do You Want To Do
Before you can begin sourcing grants, you have to know what it is you want to do and why, and how you can best present your practice to 'win' grant funding. What needs are in your patient population or community? For example, if there is a high incidence of asthma in your area, you may want to look for a grant that may help you to adopt asthma protocols for earlier detection, develop a patient education program, and community talks to assist with learning about the condition.
Next, define what you want grant reviewers to know about your practice. Start with a practice profile that essentially tells your practice story: number of physicians, mid-levels, offices, any special resources you have on staff, and so on. Summarize the communities served by your group and details about your patient population, including demographics, languages spoken, percentage of patients on government insurance, and other details that give an accurate picture of your practice. Then, make a list of all the services that are provided through the practice, whether this is diagnostic and treatment services, supportive services such as social work, or any other type of capabilities that the practice is offering. In addition, compile your providers' qualifications: education, internships, residencies, and positions held. Include any of their authored publications or presentations and any published research. It is best to do this in a curriculum vitae format, not a summarized resume. This might take some time, but so will finding and qualifying for your first grant, so see your practice profile as something that can continue to evolve as you search.
Where To Look
Initially, it may be easier to go with the most familiar ideas (clinical care), while navigating the difficulties of researching, applying for and fulfilling grant opportunities. But there are many other areas that you may be linking your patients to in the community. Think about the social communities that you are tapped into and that may help to open up some new opportunities. Many grants are multi-modal – one may focus on how healthcare improves with a number of community support services added to care. For example, a relationship with the local food pantry may be the perfect set up for a grant for studying health benefits on a lower income population when those patients are provided two well-balanced, nutritional meals a day. So think beyond your clinical scope of practice and look to other parties in your community too.
How To Find A Grant
New grants become available every day and grant seekers will have to continually peruse many of the same sites repeatedly in order to find good opportunities. Most grant sites have instructional tools on their websites, so review those areas — this is more necessary than you might expect as these websites can be downright confusing, with multiple ways to search and review full grant information. Many of the sites allow for customized searches, using very specific keyword terms to narrow down a search. Keep a list of search terms that produce the best results for you, and take advantage of any website offerings that allow you to save your customized search or practice profile, or even send you an email alert when a grant is added that meets your specifications.
Once an appropriate grant opportunity has been found, there is usually a deadline in the not-too-distant-future, so being prepared with your practice profile and completing your application quickly will provide the best chance of being awarded a grant.
There is an exhaustive list of websites for finding federal and private grants. Whenever possible, take advantage of creating a profile to save your search criteria and subscribe to any email alerts for grants that fit your practice. It will save you time when you find a matching opportunity and want to apply. The list below is a small example of where to begin your grant searches.
- Grants.gov (many of the health-oriented federal grants can be found here)
- National Institutes of Health
- RWJF.org (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation)
- LPFCH.org (Lucille Packard Foundation for Children's Health)
- WKKF.org (W.K. Kellogg Foundation)
Grant Finding Subscription Services