How To Start A Medical Practice: A Checklist For Healthcare Entrepreneurs
By Gil Vidals, , HIPAA Blog, HIPAA Hosting, Marketing, Resources, Uncategorized

Starting a new medical practice can host a variety of challenges and rewards. You’ve got responsibilities like running a business, managing finances, and delivering top-notch patient care, all of which can be overwhelming. But with careful preparation and planning, and the right resources, you can confidently embark on the journey of opening and operating your practice with great success!

Opening a medical practice requires many boxes to be checked, some more obscure and overlooked than others. The Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), a national organization representing healthcare administrators, has a detailed checklist for starting a medical practice. However, verbiage and instructions can be difficult to understand straight from the expert’s mouth, so HIPAA Vault puts it in the simplest terms possible with our checklist for starting a new medical practice:

One Year Before Opening Your New Practice

Most healthcare professionals don’t have a full grasp of how to start a medical practice and the time that it requires. If you are very seriously considering opening your own healthcare facility, you must begin at least a year in advance.

  • Engage and select a practice management consultant who will assist you with developing a comprehensive business, operations, and marketing plan for your specific needs.
  • Consult an experienced attorney to advise you on business structure, contracts, and establishing a strong legal framework.
  • Collaborate with a trusted practice accountant. They can help formulate a financial plan, set budgets, generate monthly reports, and navigate the complexities of taxes.
  • Carefully consider and finalize your practice location, taking into account accessibility, patient demographics, and the local healthcare landscape.

10 Months

When moving forward with opening a private medical practice, set your timeline with an ideal date in mind to open. Around 10 to 11 months prior to opening, you should begin asking questions like “How much does it cost to open a medical practice?”, “How do I fund my new venture?”, and “What will my office be like?”. This is the time to begin considering the following items:

  • Establish a solid banking relationship with a trusted institution for other local entrepreneurs and business owners. A good bank will assist with securing loans and lines of credit to ensure stable financial support.
  • Negotiate an office lease that meets your specific requirements and promotes a productive work environment.
  • Take the time to carefully choose and establish relationships with reliable office and medical supply vendors, ensuring a readily available stock of specialty supplies and a well-equipped office setup.
  • Complete all necessary credentialing paperwork, including obtaining a state license and hospital privileges, to ensure a smooth transition into your practice.

8 Months

About eight months before your practice opens, you should have funding sorted, know the location, and have reliable advisors. Now’s the time to start planning how the facility will operate. Luckily, you now have an attorney and a practice management consultant to assist with the next steps:

  • During this timeframe, you must find an insurance company that caters to both your business and professional needs. This will ensure that you have the necessary coverage and protection in place.
  • Additionally, take the time to carefully prepare and fine-tune your employment policies and procedures for a medical practice. These include creating guidelines for hiring, employee conduct, leave policies, and more. Having well-defined and comprehensive policies in place will help set a strong foundation for your business.
  • Make informed decisions regarding employee pay and benefits. Consider factors such as industry standards, location, and the overall budget of your business. By carefully considering these aspects, you can create an enticing compensation package that attracts and retains top talent.

6 Months

At 6 months, you’re already halfway there to opening your medical practice! Wasn’t that quick and easy? Now is the time to get specific by tapping into your creative side:

  • Begin the process of preparing and confirming an office design that aligns with your vision and needs. Consider factors such as layout, functionality, and aesthetic appeal. Make it your own!
  • Start planning for the purchase of essential office and practice supplies, equipment, furniture, as well as telephone and copier systems.
  • As you plan your office applications and systems, it is crucial to ask: “What needs to be HIPAA-compliant?”. Any application that contains Protected Health Information (PHI) needs to follow HIPAA guidelines, such as your web hosting, emails, fax, texting, and more. Lucky for you, HIPAA Vault has a customizable bundle for new practices, so this step will be exceptionally easy for you!
  • Take the necessary steps to determine and apply to insurance company panels, including Medicare, NPI, and Medicaid. 
  • To ensure a simple and secure experience for payments, it is worth the time and effort to find a trustworthy and reliable credit card vendor. This guarantees the protection of sensitive customer information and enhances transactional efficiency.

4 Months

With only four months left before opening your medical practice, it’s now time to mold the culture of your facility. Developing your team will make all the difference by setting a healthy culture, which your consultant can assist with.

  • Hire an office manager who will play a vital role in overseeing daily operations and staff, and ensuring smooth workflow. Take time to define staffing ratios and create comprehensive job descriptions that outline responsibilities and expectations.
  • Start the hiring process for employees who will be part of your team. This could include medical staff, administrative personnel, and support staff. Carefully evaluate candidates to find individuals who align with the values and goals of your practice.
  • Verify admitting privileges for your medical practice. This important step ensures that you can admit patients to specific hospitals or healthcare facilities when necessary, allowing for seamless continuity of care.
  • Establish a well-defined process for billing insurance companies and patients. This involves setting up efficient systems and protocols to ensure accurate and timely claims submission, maximizing reimbursement and minimizing billing errors.
  • Implement accounting and payroll systems that will help manage your practice’s finances. Consider using reliable software or hiring professionals to ensure compliance with financial regulations and smooth financial operations.
  • Obtain CLIA certification for your office lab. The Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) certification ensures that your laboratory meets quality standards, promoting patient safety and confidence in your diagnostic services.
  • Take the necessary steps to determine and implement applicable Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards for in-office safety policies and procedures. Prioritize creating a safe working environment for your team and compliance with relevant regulations.
  • Create a marketing plan to promote your practice. Establish a solid online presence via social media, network with fellow professionals, and leverage traditional marketing strategies to attract patients.

Now What?

After reading through this extensive checklist, it’s natural to begin doubting how capable you are of doing this on your own. Luckily, you aren’t! With the assistance of your consultant, attorney, and accountant, you can certainly get this business up and running. But how do you maintain the business? An aspect that absolutely cannot be overlooked is your HIPAA compliance. A simple mistake like sending an unencrypted email to the wrong recipient can cost your business thousands of dollars in fines.

Bundle Your Secured Services With HIPAA Vault

HIPAA Vault is now offering a tailored bundle for new practices, where you can customize the services we provide to the needs of your office. Choose 3 of our 8 starter services to receive a 15% discount! Now you can rest assured that your system is being managed by an experienced compliance team, with 24/7/365 access to support. And, if that isn’t enough, you are getting the best prices in the industry!

Check out our HIPAA Vault Bundle page now for more information on our services, and fill out a contact form to receive a custom quote for your cybersecurity needs!