Five mistakes to avoid when starting a medical practice

Five mistakes to avoid when starting a medical practice

Starting a medical practice brings both excitement and challenges to business owners. However being an ‘owner’ of a practice requires more than being a medical professional.

Owners need strong business acumen and a digital-first mindset.

1. Failing to view the practice ‘as a business’

For the majority of medical professionals, a private practice is the sole source of income. This means to achieve profitability sooner, it’s imperative that their practices are set up as a business from the very outset.

A robust and successful practice requires planning, setting income and cost budgets, investing in suitable and scalable systems, having the right support team – and setting efficient processes. This means your practice will need to have strong ‘business foundations’ from which you can achieve continued growth.

Otherwise, you risk constantly trying to do more with less, wasting time and money on administration, or placing undue burden on your wider team and staff.

2. Prioritising cost over investment

One common mistake I see when specialists open their practice is prioritising ‘cost’ at the start, focusing on the short-term income and cost-cutting rather than prioritising investment for long-term profitability.

They go down the path of setting up their practice on a low budget and wait to invest into the practice once they get a steady referral base. The number of times we have heard specialists say “eventually, when I get busy…”

Private practice, like any business, needs an investment of money, professional support, time and effort to achieve profitability. The less investment and focus from the start, the longer it will take to become profitable.

The key investments to start with are your own scalable system and the right support team, which leads to a far more agile, collaborative way of running and growing your practice.

3. Overlooking the right scalable systems and solutions

Having your own patient management software is as important as the consulting rooms in the clinic. Yet often we see practitioners undervalue the true power and potential of digital solutions to help grow their practice.

Owning your patient data in a secure environment is crucial, which is why it is important to set up in a practice that understands this.

Choosing the right software from the start will minimise the cost and effort required to change in the future. Some things to look for when choosing the system are:

Ease of access: Is it cloud based, so you can access your schedule and clinical notes anywhere, anytime?
Flexibility: Does the software have a mobile app to access your schedule and patient files on the go?
User friendly: Is it easy to use for both doctors and admin staff?
Secure storage of patient data: Where is the data stored?
Scalability: Can the software keep up with your practice growth? Does the software continuously bring out new product features which enhance efficiency of your practice?

4. Undervaluing the power of digital marketing

Underestimating the impact that societal changes are having on the medical industry can have a significant impact on your practice. Nowadays, marketing your medical practice and having an online presence isn’t just encouraged, it is essential.

Practices should invest in social media as potential patients research clinics before committing to them. Word of mouth via social media is another way potential patients find out about your clinic.

Investing in healthcare marketing techniques is not only a creative way to increase patient numbers but it can also increase a practice’s revenue.

5. Not getting the right type of business and technical support

Using an affordable system and hiring ‘a friend of a friend’ might seem like an economical way to get the business off the ground, but it could significantly impact you in the future.

As your practice grows, this base level of support doesn’t always grow with it – and you risk finding yourself buried in administrative work and follow-up tasks.

Accessing the right type and level of support for your practice is easier now than ever before. Economical alternatives to hiring a secretary and practice manager include virtual administrative support, outsourced marketing and outsourced practice management. And the right cloud-based systems can also give you that extra layer of technical support and guidance.

Whatever arrangement you enter into, ensure it comes with flexibility, catering to the changing requirements of your practice. The support team or services should never be an obstacle but an enabler in achieving growth efficiently and effectively.

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