Today’s post comes from my partner, Dr. Rick Thompson. Rick is a Founder and Medical Advisor for MedLaunch Solutions, but is also a successful cardiothoracic surgeon in Lincoln, NE.
5 Tips for Building Your Medical Practice
You have finally arrived, as you hang your medical school diploma on your new office wall and think about your first “real” paycheck from your first job, the next year or two is extremely critical in building your reputation and your practice. Patients are much more apt to evaluate doctors online and ask friends for referrals than ever before. In addition, practice patterns and referral patterns are often difficult to break into as a new physician. Good marketing and public relations are essential in early practice building. Remember these tips as you build your dream practice.
- Get involved and build relationships with all the hospitals you have privileges
Hospitals want your business more than ever. They are willing to go above and beyond to get your patients, procedures, imaging studies and lab studies to their institution. Talk to your administrative contact and the PR department about joint marketing efforts of any new service/procedure you might provide. Ask about opportunities for medical directorships and co-management agreements of service lines. Most importantly build this relationship early and let them know you are there to participate and help as well. All hospitals have multiple committees and working groups that need physician input, volunteer and the favors may be paid back with hospital resources in the future.
- Start thinking about future business opportunities
Doctors, more than ever, need to rely on creative business opportunities to generate practice revenue. If you are a surgeon, talk with other surgeons about buying into an ambulatory surgery center. If you are a primary care doctor, make sure you are billing for all the new codes allowed by CMS, including transitional care management and chronic care management. Think about setting up imaging, pharmacy and lab services in your office. These can generate tens of thousands in revenue and there are companies than set up to run the operations for you and just provide a check to you every month. There are opportunities for every specialty to extend into some sort of ancillary services. Do your research and think outside of the box.
- Concentrate on physician relationships
Building trust with physicians that practice near you is essential in building your reputation and generating referrals. Doctors only send patients to other doctors they trust. One simple tip is to give your cell phone to all primary care doctors to use if you are a specialist. Sometimes primary care doctors just want to talk to someone about a patient and don’t want to go through an answering service. I have answered calls from other doctors from places as far away as a beach in Bora Bora, but that availability engenders trust and shows the referring physicians that you care. Be available for all your referring doctors.
- Buy your office space
There is nothing worse than being in practice for 20 years, paying rent every month owning nothing at the end. The best person to pay rent to is yourself. The tax benefits are sizeable and the appreciation of real estate over the long term far outweigh the headaches of being a property owner. The caveat to that is if you think this is a short-term job, don’t invest in something that may be difficult to unload if you are going to move.
If a referring physician sends you a patient, take the extra 5 minutes and call them and let them know your plan. Even if you don’t speak with the doctor himself, tell his/her nurse what is going on and they will relay the message. Follow that up with a handwritten thank you note for the kind referral. Specialty medicine is a competitive business, be sure you are providing good customer service to the hand that feeds you. If you are a primary care doctor, write a letter to all the local realtors, attorneys, and accountants letting them know your story and that you are accepting new patients. Be sure to include a picture. These business people often see people in life transitions and at those moments, some people need a new doctor.
I hope you found these tips useful!