Recently, we have spoken with several doctors contemplating practice ownership. Some are tenured physicians separating from hospital, university, or group practice employment. Others are finishing residency or fellowship and getting ready to put their name on their first door. If you are like those with whom we’ve spoken, the options are limitless, workload is daunting, and to-do list is overwhelming. While you may still wish to utilize YellowTelescope, which can serve as the “Super Mario Brothers Warp Zone” for your practice (you still have to play and win the game on your own, but we’ll save you time, energy and speed up your success), here we outline the first three things we suggest you consider when branching out on your own…
1) Finding the Right Medical Office Space and Location
We recommend treating office space search in the same manner you sought your first apartment. You may not have the budget to get everything you desire and will make compromises, but need to hold firm to your non-negotiables needs. First, focus on the location and demographic you desire for your practice. You can always move into something nicer or bigger in a nearby location once you have the revenue to support it, but reinventing your clientele or getting ranked well online in a second location is costly and difficult. One trend we have seen recently, particularly in more costly cities like Los Angeles or New York City, are doctors subleasing space within an existing practice that has a large referral funnel and patient volume. We think there are great cross-selling opportunities by pairing a plastic surgery practice with, for example, an ophthalmologist or dermatologist. Be sure you are treated as an owner of your piece of the practice and a lessee and not an employee of the group. Offer discounts, network with the referring doctors or sponsor an event to utilize the existing patient base of the other practices to begin building your own.
2) Hire a Superb Patient Care Coordinator
The most common misdemeanor we see in new practices is the lack of a world-class patient care coordinator (PCC). We strongly believe this is the most vital position on your staff. Before you hire a nurse, receptionist, or office manager, you need someone who can sell your services. Many practices starting out will hire a “Jill or Jack of all trades”, or in YellowTelescope terminology, a “hybrid”. If you can only afford one employee to start, find someone who is proficient at selling and who secondarily can also answer the phones, clean instruments, or place a supply order. We know it seems counterintuitive, but without someone whose strength is communicating with patients, you are not ready for other positions in most cases.
3) Implement Processes to Maximize Conversion
Depending on the patient base you begin with, you may not have a ton of leads coming in the door to start. It is crucial to convert as many as possible with outstanding same-day in-office booking ratios. Too often, doctors figure protocols and processes out as they go, which results in confusion, poor patient care, frustrated employees (“so what, again is my pay structure and when am I up for a raise?”). Do not wait until you are seeing patients to establish how phone calls will be handled, phones will be answered, consultations will be scheduled, pre-operative and post-operative paperwork will be distributed, and so forth. By investing time when your mind can processes and plan, and before the doors open, you gift your employees necessary tools to create the kind of practice you are envisioning, from culture to patient care. You will maximize efficiency and minimize the need for micromanagement.
As a parting thought, here are a few questions you should be asking yourself to establish practice protocols:
- How will the initial phone call be answered?
- How will new patients be brought into the practice?
- What kind of conversation are you going to have to ensure the patient is ready to book?
- How will you alley-oop back to the Patient Care Coordinator after you meet each patient in order to book the surgery?
- How often, and in what way, will you follow up with leads who have not booked?
- In what ways will your practice differentiate itself from every other “smart, board-certified, pleasant, caring doctor” in your area?
- Will you charge a consultation fee?
- What will your deposit and cancellation policies look like?
- What are your non-negotiable, core, and aspirational values for your organization?
Going out on your own requires a lot of upfront work, but when done properly it can also be an incredibly rewarding (and profitable) (ad)venture. To make your practice dreams come true, or warp zones, reach out to YellowTelescope at firstname.lastname@example.org.