Question: I have been unable to find any tips for managing the relocation of a medical office. We will be moving in six months and this would be most helpful.
Answer: Much depends on exactly what kind of a switch you are making, but consider these issues:
- Incorporation - Are you just moving, or are you setting up a new practice? Most states will let you practice as a “foreign” corporation when you relocate to a new state, but there may be more hassle. If so, you’d be better off liquidating the old corporation and incorporating again in your new community.
- Finding and filing paperwork with all payers, vendors, etc. - Assuming you have an address picked out, fill out the paperwork to change your address with the post office, payers, and everyone who bills you. It might help to make a list from your management software of everyone you’ve paid or who has paid you. Also contact the state medical board and the DEA, if you have licenses from them. You’ll also want to inform the state and feds for tax-related reasons.
- Prepare budgets - You may want to prepare a couple of budgets to plan ahead for possible glitches. Account for property acquisition and remodeling, marketing the new location, and temporarily increased operating costs as you work out the kinks. You can also expect to lose at least a few patients, even if all you are doing is moving a few miles away, so you might project lower income at first. Over time, of course, if the area is busier, more visible, or convenient to better-paying patients, you can project growth.
- Marketing - Let your patients know you are moving and prepare to get some new ones. Set a budget and work with a designer to create a postcard or other announcement of the move, complete with map, and a very short explanation of how the move will benefit the patients. Send it to everyone you have seen in the past three years if you are in primary care. If you depend on referrals, market to your referral base. Also market in the community where you are moving. The neighborhood paper might wish to cover the move; call them and offer to write a story about the move or a series of articles on healthcare issues that will include your address at the bottom.
- Patient rights - You are required to let patients know where to find you and their charts. Publish a notice announcing this in the city and the local paper. The notice must contain the date of sale, termination, or relocation, as well as an address from which patients may obtain their records or have them transferred. You should also place a sign with the same information in a conspicuous location in your office or on its facade at least 30 days before the change, and you should write patients.
- Hospital - Do you need to get credentialed with a new hospital? Can the hospital help you market your practice?
- Staff - Let your staff know about the move sooner rather than later. If some don’t want to change locations, you better find out now so you are not caught short-staffed.