8 unexpected things to consider when setting up your Medical Practice
So you feel the time is right to offer your skills outside of the NHS on the private circuit. Like any new business, the process of setting up your own private medical practice can be fraught with challenges.
Some practicalities, particularly around insurance and tax issues, have already been well covered – but what about the aspects relating to the actual day-to-day running of the business like, staffing, marketing, administration etc.
Where do you start and what should you consider?
Here’s our 8 point checklist!
1. Telephone number Avoid a number that is linked to a physical landline. A virtual number will give you more freedom should you move your practice to a new location. You should also check you can divert or forward calls and any related charges involved. What features are offered if any and what are the costs? If they are offered as part of a bundle will you use the features?
2. Email and Domain Name Use a provider like 123reg or Namecheap and buy a domain that closely matches your practice name and setup your email to send from that domain too as you will look more professional. For the utmost reliability, Google Apps can take care of the sending and receiving of your email, although Microsoft offers a similar service too.
3. Website Getting the right provider to create your website can be one of the biggest challenges you face when setting up. With an estimated cost between £3000 and £9000 it is also one of your largest.
One way to bring down this cost is to do your homework beforehand so you are clear what you want. Look at websites you like and note down why, so you create a list of exactly which features you want.
4. SEO If you don’t know your SEO from your PPC, you need to consider these before approaching a company to build your website. Being found on Google is predominantly about two things; making sure your site supports meta information and it is filled out, but more importantly, setting out a clear strategy to regularly publish unique content – usually through a blog – so your site will require that functionality too.
5. Marketing Capturing new business is another area you need to consider. If you plan to obtain clients from referrals – whether via GP or Insurance Company – you still need to plan this process. How will you contact them, direct mail, email or on the telephone? And when you do, remember to pay particular attention to any specialisms you have in order to ensure when the referrals do start arriving, they are the right ones. Having a plan from the start will ensure that you can hit the ground running.
6. Staffing If you opt to employ your own staff, make sure that you have good job descriptions in place with clear policies on holiday and sickness as well as an employee handbook to make sure that your expectations are clear from the very beginning.
Consult an HR company to make sure your policies are within the law and updated accordingly as the law is updated. Also make sure your organisation has a plan in place should your employees fall sick or are on holiday.
Ofcourse there are other options to employing your own staff.
A Virtual PA Service like ours can be very effective and handle your inbound calls administration exactly the same way as an employee would. Companies who use Virtual PA’s also have the benefit of a flexible charging model that can adapts with the activities of your practice.
7. Payments Don’t rush into setting up every available billing option before considering your customers. If your clientele are most likely to be insurance company clients, do you need to go to the cost of putting in place every option, even Paypal? Probably not.
8. Dictation If you don’t plan on typing your own letters, consider the services of a transcription company. Some of these services can link to your smartphone and email you the transcription for a small fee.
As with most projects the key is to plan well in advance. However, you need to decide whether you are planning for the mid term assuming your practice will expand, or happy just to find initial solutions that only serve well during the start up phase.
Ideally, you don’t want to have to keep putting short term fixes in place that could have been present from the start.