For entrepreneur physicians, practice ownership is a chance to be their own boss, customize patient care, and provide greater healthcare access to (underserved) local communities. But the scale of investment, administrative effort, and legal implications in launching a medical practice can certainly seem daunting to a physician contemplating a private practice. To help aspiring medical practice owners, we are introducing a three-part checklist series on launching a medical practice. In this first part, we break down the “Equipment & Technology, and People” components of starting a medical practice.
Equipment & Technology, and Staff for Starting a Medical Practice
The process of launching a medical practice becomes easier when you break down the essential components. Once you have identified the location, decided on the type of medical practice, and arranged the required finances for launching a medical practice, it’s time to put meat to the bones of your medical practice.
Here are the essential components of acquiring the equipment and technology, and people for starting a medical practice.
1: Set up the essential IT infrastructure
You must have these essential IT elements in your medical practice –
- Domain server.
- Onsite phone and fax system
- Windows server.
- Data backup software.
- Encrypted email exchange.
Post-launch you can also invest in biometric fingerprint readers for tracking employee hours.
2. Purchase medical equipment
Here’s a list of essential medical equipment created by cmecorp ( a leading source of healthcare equipment in North America).
- AED (automated external defibrillator)
- Basic diagnostic (vital signs monitors, blood pressure monitor, thermometer, pulse oximeter, etc.)
- Blood draw, exam room, Office, and waiting room furniture
- Bodyweight scales and height rods (bariatric, pediatric, wheelchair, bed scales, etc.)
- Break room appliances (microwave, toaster, coffee maker, refrigerator/freezer, etc.)
- Cabinetry and storage shelving
- Computers, workstations on wheels (WOWs), printers, and accessories
- Emergency equipment and supplies (airways, aspirators, oxygen, mask, resuscitation bag/mask, etc.)
- ECG unit and accessories
- Exam tables (bariatric, pediatric, power, etc.)
- Eye charts
- Lighting (procedure, task, UV LED magnifier, etc.)
- Laboratory diagnostic equipment (centrifuge, urine/chemistry/glucose/hematology analyzers, microscope, specimen refrigerator/freezer, etc.)
- Partitions, privacy screens
- Personal Protective Equipment (gloves, aprons, eyewear, face masks, PPE dispensers)
- Procedure power tables
- Protective equipment (gloves, aprons, eyewear, facemasks)
- Sharps containers
- Specialized equipment (spirometer, fetal monitoring, ultrasounds, holter monitors, etc.)
- Specialized lighting
- Stainless steel equipment (tables, IV stands, mayo stands, etc.)
- Step stools
- Water filtration system
3. Purchase software
- Practice Management Software ( PMS) – Integrated with the EHR, PMS is used to track patient interactions, manage physician schedules, manage billing and claim processing, payment collections, and generate revenue reports.
- Electronic Health Record (EHR) – This is your one-stop-shop for maintaining patient records, medical history, and patient communications.
- Telehealth – Telehealth is a must-have prior to launch.
- Remote Patient Monitoring – If you don’t have the funds, RPM can be acquired post-launch of the medical practice.
- Payment collection tools – Consider offering virtual terminals, card-on-file, which can be integrated with your patient portal, payment plans, and mobile payment solutions.
|Important: Ensure that your practice EHR and PMS comply with the CMS Interoperability and Patient Access final rule.|
4. Hiring Staff
Medical practices must go the extra mile in ensuring that the staff they hire have the required experience, are reliable (clean employment and criminal history), and are credentialed with providers. Failure to do so can cause significant problems for your practice at a later stage. Work with a background check company that has experience in verifying hires for medical practices.
Finding the right people for your medical practice will be among the main challenges you face in launching your medical practice. To make the process easier, list the following before you begin recruitment –
- Identify the job roles.
- Detail the job responsibilities for each role.
- Estimate the salary and benefits for each.
- List the required personality traits, along with the qualifications and experience of positions.
Ideally, you want to hire physicians, nurses, and administrators who understand the importance of value-based care. Employment policies can be written simultaneously with the help of a labor attorney. You will also have to comply with payroll deductions as per government regulations. You can use the help of an accountant or outsource the activity to a payroll service provider such as Paychex or ADP. A third alternative is that you do it yourself through software such as Intuit QuickBooks.
For medical transcription, you can (a) have an in-house staff to do the task, (b) use voice recognition software, or (c) you can hire a medical transcription service. Assess which would work best for your practice because the accuracy of information fed into the EHR is critical.
Timely accurate medical coding, billing, and claims processing are vital for keeping the practice cash flow healthy. Especially in the first year of launching a medical practice, you want to focus all efforts on delivering quality patient care. Partnering with an outsourced medical billing service allows you to do that without worrying about the administrative aspects of medical billing, collections, and claims management. Also, medical billing is a highly dynamic activity unless you have the resources to hire an experienced team of medical billers. Outsourcing medical billing is a more efficient way to handle the billing process.