Physicians decide to strike out on their own for a multitude of reasons. Some find a desire to do it their own way after years of working as an employed physician in another provider’s practice. In other cases, a physician may be presented with an opportunity to take over a practice or fulfill an unmet healthcare need in a new town.
Whatever the impetus, the idea of opening and running an independent medical practice in the age of mergers and hospital buyouts can be daunting. Can an independent medical practice even survive in this environment?
In a word, yes.
Not only can independent practices survive, they can thrive. The key to launching a successful independent practice is proper planning. Knowing what steps to take and what mistakes to avoid is critical to ensuring a sustainable, profitable practice.
Follow these five steps to get started down the right path:
Establish your motivation and mission
Understand why you want to work as a solo provider. Is there a financial reason? A desire for better work-life balance? Or do you wish to provide a different type of patient care, perhaps with a more personalized touch?
An appreciation of your motivations will help define your mission, which sets the framework for the kind of practice you will build and map out the steps to launch it. Even more importantly, your mission will serve as a grounding point, an ideal upon which you can continually reference to measure whether your practice is fulfilling its purpose.
Envision the future
Once your mission is clearly defined, set long-term goals for your practice. You can’t get there in one step, but you can certainly strive for it from Day One. For example, do you desire to become a patient centered medical home? Do you want to grow your practice to include ancillary services, such as behavioral health services or a sports medicine clinic? Do you want to launch your own line of supplements?
The type of practice you want to build will impact the tasks involved in starting it, such as getting credentialed with insurance companies, locating an initial space with room for future expansion and hiring individuals with the necessary skills to make your practice successful.
Create your brand
The combination of your mission and your vision becomes your “brand” of medicine. The culture and environment that you are creating influences how you market to your targeted patient population.
Invest the time and money up front to develop a memorable name, a strong logo and a mission statement that communicates to potential patients what your practice is all about. And remember that rebranding costs significantly more than branding, so it’s best to take a “measure twice, cut once” approach for marketing materials.