The thought of starting a practice provokes fear in many, but it should not steer you away. In fact, patients receive the best care when their physicians maintain control of their own practice. Starting a successful medical practice offers many advantages, such as autonomy and the ability to manage and make business decisions pertaining to the practice.
To help you get started, we have compiled a best practices guide for what your property needs as you start a medical practice.
Advantages and Challenges of Managing a Private Practice
There is no internal career path. You’re at the top of the position.
You will lose money every time a new non-revenue generating position is added or any time equipment needs to be replaced.
Lack of readily available after-hours coverage
8 Best Practices to Starting a Medical Practice
Location is Key
Choose your location wisely. Locate your medical office in a highly visible, heavily trafficked area. You will get new patients just by being visible.
Other factors to consider are:
Competition. Research and consider how many other physicians are in the area.
Economic Factors: Does it support industries, schools, or government offices? What is the income bracket of the neighborhood (i.e. Medicare and Medicaid population)?
Demographic: Understand your community and market (i.e. population, age, sex, race and educational factors of the area).
Availability of Space: What is the real estate available for medical office space? Will you have to lease non-medical space?
Rent, Don’t Buy
Commercial real estate is risky. Rent your property until you’re sure you are staying.
Get Your Credentials
Start early. You will need to go through a process known as ‘credentialing’ to accept government or private health insurance from patient. The credentialing process can take up to six months. You will be asked about your medical education and residency, proper license and malpractice insurance. Not all states require malpractice insurance, but having it will help protect your personal assets in case a patient sues you. More information is available at your state department of insurance.
Which public health insurance programs you should consider largely depends on your branch of medicine and practice. If you practice in low-income areas, you might consider participating in Medicaid.
Create a Marketing Strategy
Create a marketing strategy that suits your demographic, practice and budget – whether it is in social media, event promotion, or in-person. For example, community events are a great way to introduce yourself to people in the neighborhood. Meet people face-to-face and proactively connect and engage with pharmacists, the police department, the township and the list goes on.
Hire Good Staff
Your staff is the front line of your medical practice. Patients will choose you or lose you based on whom you hire. Hire carefully, and look for a candidate who is qualified, passionate, well-versed, charismatic, and organized.
Hire a Good Accountant/Attorney
A good accountant is key to starting a medical practice. Business accountants can assist in complex taxes and not all accountants know the nuances of medical practices. You can contact your state medical societies for recommendations.
As a new business owner, contracts from leases to sub-contracting is inevitable. In part to this, it is always wise to have an attorney review your contracts.
An incorporated business has tax benefits, such as deductions in medical insurance, travel expenses, and daily business expenses. You can also deduct your business losses, which is more difficult if you are a sole proprietor. Incorporated income earned as a corporation is not subject to Social Security taxes, only the portion you take home as salary. Lastly, corporations tend to be taxed at a lower rate than self-employed business owners.
Know the Laws and Regulations
You are responsible for any mistakes made in your practice. Go through your accounts receivable on a monthly basis, and make sure coding and billing is accurate and by law.
The aesthetic and practical aspects of office design are an integral part to any medical practice. Patients often form their first impression of a medical practice by visual experience, convenience, and comfort. Stained carpets, torn books and magazines, and rude front-office staff can negatively influence how patients perceive the quality of their care.
How to design an efficient and productive medical office space can be subtle or direct. It could be the arrangement of space to the intensity of color and light contrast throughout the office. We have created 5 best practices when it comes to office design.
1. Pay Attention to Traffic Flow
To design a welcoming space, your office design needs to consider where your patients will be entering and exiting from. An effective office layout is designed with a circular traffic flow in mind that leads from the waiting room through reception to exam rooms and back out the reception. This promotes fluidity, less congestion and a linear flow. Nothing is worse than showing up for an appointment and having no idea where to go. Be sure to design the office considering foot traffic flow. You patients are more likely to have a seamless end-to-end experience during their stay and not wander off to restricted areas.
2. Keep in Mind Privacy & Confidentiality
HIPAA privacy rules are changing patient registration in medical offices. Many practices are now customizing the registration process with a second patient registration area that offers more privacy for check-ins, payment, and completion of medical records.
The location of medical records and exam rooms should be designed with confidentiality in mind. To respect the privacy of your patients, office and storage units should be out of patients’ view. All private patient information, diagnoses, billing, treatments or medications need to be in a secure file and location. Separate, additional rooms for testing are needed so patients have privacy when services are administered. Storage of medications, mobile equipment, bandages, medical supplies, and cleaning agents should be kept in storage closets and out of sight.
3. Choose Colors Carefully
Choose the color of your space carefully. This could be in the furniture you choose as well as the colors of your walls and fixtures. For example, if you are designing the waiting room, you may want to consider calming and soothing colors such as green or blue. Blue symbolizes honesty, loyalty and security and green is calming and soothing. A touch of pink brings out compassion. Avoid using yellow and red because they may cause aggression, stress and anxiety.
4. Construct Efficiency
Efficiency is the key to designing an effective medical practice. An effective medical office space allows practices to be more efficient and productive, providing areas for staff to work effectively and allowing physicians to spend more time with patients. Design factors could range from reducing the walking space, allocating the proper number of exam rooms needed, locating exam rooms strategically to reduce excess traffic…and so much more.
When space is designed and planned poorly, efficiency and productivity decreases.
5. Separate Entrances for Physicians and Staff
Nothing is worse than a waiting patient seeing his or her physician arrive later than scheduled. It is even worse when patients do not understand why the physician or staff may not be available to immediately begin seeing patients.
Creating a separate entrance for physicians and staff separates “off set” and “on set” behavior (akin to the off set and on set behavior of actors) and allows a physician to enter and exit as needed. It increases employee satisfaction and morale. Staff can laugh, talk about their day or plan for the evening, and not be concerned about the impression on patients. Once the physician and staff are on set, full attention and care is provided.
A greener workplace can mean a lighter ecological footprint, as well as a healthier and more productive place to work. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and, now, Repair and Rethink, sustainability can come in the form of telecommuting to small adjustments within your medical practice. Bottom line – simple steps you and your practice can take today can save money and decrease its impact on the planet.
1. Redesign the Work Space
Creating an eco-friendly medical office space in which you work has limitless possibilities. Start by investing in good furniture, good lighting, and good air. Furniture can be manufactured from recycled materials as well as recyclable. Incandescent bulbs can be replaced with compact fluorescent or LED desk lamps that use minuscule amounts of energy.
Open space to natural daylight as a free source of lighting for the office, where applicable. This can also improve productivity and satisfaction among both your staff and visiting patients. Workspace air quality is also key. Good ventilation and low VOC paints and materials will create high air quality and keep everyone happy, as well as healthy – a key benefit in a medical setting.
Of course, certain industry requirements may mean such changes can’t be utilized in every section of your practice, but working them in where possible is a worthy investment.
The greenest paper is no paper at all. Keep things digital and dematerialize whenever possible. The more you do electronically and/or online, the less you need paper. Keep files on computers instead of in file cabinets. Review and analyze data onscreen rather than printing them out. Send emails instead of paper letters and documents.
3. Switch to Eco-Purchasing & Practices
Purchase environmentally friendly paper with high post-consumer content and chlorine-free bleach. Remember recycled paper uses a great deal of energy, water and chemical resources in its processing. Practice double-sided printing, and reuse boxes and shredded waste paper as packing material.
4. Use Green Materials
Some paper use can’t be avoided, so opt for recycled paper and envelopes. Materials such as pens and pencils can also be made of recycled materials, and refillable pens and markers are recommended over disposable ones. Use biodegradable soaps and recycled paper towels or cloths in the bathroom and kitchen. Switch to biodegradable cleaners for the custodial staff, and buy in bulk so that shipping and packaging waste are reduced. Reuse the shipping boxes, and recycle where possible.
5. Reduce Energy Use
Use energy-efficient equipment such as those certified by the Energy Star program. Simple ways to do reduce energy include:
Turn down the thermostat at night and on weekends if you’re practice closes then.
Set your central air a few degrees higher, and your heater a few degrees lower.
Use energy-efficient light bulbs or fluorescent lights.
Turn off computers and other electronic equipment when not in use.
Ensure the windows and exterior doors are sealed.
Use motion sensors or timed lighting for unoccupied rooms.
6. Unplug & Turn Off
Turn off everything you possibly can before you leave each day. Encourage this behavior among your staff and lead by example. Unplug or turn off electronics in the office when you close up for the day.
7. Encourage Eco-Transportation
If possible, try to locate your medical property close to public transit. Provide bicycle storage and change rooms, and encourage teleconferencing and e-conferencing. These adjustments can encourage your peers to minimize gas waste by carpooling, biking, or walking.
8. Lunch Time
Brighten up the dining space by rethinking lunch time. Encourage everyone to bring in reusable containers; join them in placing large orders (more efficient than many separate ones); and provide reusable plates, utensils, and napkins for convenience.
9. Remove Waste Wisely
Recycling is the best way to remove waste wisely. Set up recycling bins next to disposable bins in convenient spots for employees and patients. Keep each bin clearly labeled.
Finding an Eco-Friendly Medical Office
Maintaining an eco-friendly medical office can be made easier by deciding on a rental property that has already been built with eco-friendliness in mind. To explore the possible options throughout Los Angeles and its surrounds, contact us today.
Choosing the right medical office space for your practice can be an overwhelming process. Your office environment is important to the overall atmosphere of your practice, and you’ll want to make the decision that is right for you and your patients. All factors need to be considered when making the choice – if you pick an office space based on price alone, it could have a detrimental impact on your practice.
Here are some ideas on how you can decide on the best medical space for your office.
The More the Merrier
Population is an important factor to consider when choosing a medical office space. If an area has a higher population, then of course, there will be a higher amount of potential patients for your practice. It is also crucial to ensure your clinic has good exposure to the surrounding population.
How accessible your practice is will have a positive effect on securing potential patients. If your patients aren’t able to locate you, then you will lose out on many prospective patients, and they will find medical care somewhere easier to find.
Accessibility doesn’t necessarily mean that your practice has to be at the hotspot of a city. As long as your practice is simple to travel to and visible, then the more success you will have as a medical establishment.
Consider the Competition
If you pick a location that has other medical offices nearby, then the competition will be higher and it will be more difficult to remain profitable. Also, if a practice has been around for a long time, their patients will be less inclined to branch out to a new practice.
Another thing to consider is that if there are other physicians around, but they specialize in a specific field, then this may be a good strategy to obtain patients in a different area of expertise.
Getting the Right Look
There is no doubt that aesthetics are important in our society. Especially with medical offices, having the right look is more appealing to prospective patients. Make sure that both the outside and inside of the building is aesthetically pleasing, and well-maintained and decorated. You’ll want your office space to be a warm and welcoming atmosphere for your patients.
If modernly decorated buildings don’t fit your budget, you can always take on a fix-it yourself property. Fix-it yourself properties are a cost efficient way to make over a building yourself, and can be a fun project.
Find Your Ideal Medical Office Space
Choosing the right office space will make or break the success of your medical practice. We know it can be an exciting prospect, but don’t ever rush your decision – take your time to make the choice that is best for your patients and your practice.
If you’re on the hunt for a new space, our Search Tool on Boulevard Medical Properties can help you navigate through all the available office spaces. Our Search Tool is simple to use, and you can use filters to get more specific with your search.
We wish you the best of luck in your search for the right medical office space for your practice. If you have any questions or would like to know more about how we can help you, contact us today!