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A 10-point guide for starting your own practice

M3 India Newsdesk Nov 01, 2019

Need guidance with starting your own clinic? We give you 10 points to act upon before doing anything else.

Many of you may have always wanted to start practicing individually, after all, there is greater freedom in private practice. However, while you may be sure of the ‘practice’ part of it, there are things over and above that, which you need to look into before stepping forward.

Our 10-point guide below ensures you can think things through and have everything in place to see your thought take form.

1. Formulate your business plan

A business plan for a clinic is no different than for any other business. It is based on projections of the capital investment, the initial or one-time expenses, and the monthly expenses you will incur, and the revenue you expect to make in the first couple of years. Create a plan for at least the first three years of your practice, taking into account any kind of possible inflations.

The kind of expenses to consider:

  • Lease in case of renting or cash payment in case of buying a place, brokerage and yearly hike on rent
  • Medical equipment, furniture, electronics/appliances
  • Fees to CA, accountant, consultant
  • EMIs, taxes, insurance
  • Salaries to staff and subscriptions, if any
  • Medical and office supplies

If you do not have the time or the acumen for formulating a business plan, you can hire a consultant to do so for you.

2. Figure out investments and business loans

The business plan will give you an idea about how much capital is needed for starting your clinic. Figure out how much of your own money you would want to invest and how much you would need to borrow from a bank. A bank loan will incur you an EMI, which you will have to pay from your income. However, a bank loan is still a better deal than blocking your own capital fully in your clinic.

Approach a few banks with the business plan you have drawn and get the best rate of interest they demand for capital. Then compare the offered loan, the tenure, the rate of interest charged by different banks and the EMI you will incur, and then finalise the bank that gives you the most competitive and lucrative (for your business) rate.

3. Decide on the services you want to provide

Figure out what services you would want to offer at the clinic. A diagnostic test centre, any kind of therapy, counselling? You may create a space in your clinic for such services and appoint qualified professionals for the same.

Offering services would also get you commission or rent from the other doctor, which becomes an income for the clinic. However, ensure the loan or the capital available to you can cover the expenses to create more space for this service and the service itself will not affect the quality of your own practice.

4. Know the legalities

You may need licenses or permits as required by your state regulatory. This could be a mandatory trade license for your clinic, a license to install and run an elevator in your clinic premises, or getting a trademark for your clinic’s identity. Ensure you have applied for all licenses necessary.

You will have to also register your clinic as a legal entity. If you may have to invest more than Rs. 25 lakhs on medical equipment alone, then you may register your clinic as a Private Limited Company. If you anticipate an annual turnover of up to Rs. 10 Lakhs, you may register it as a Proprietorship. You may also start the clinic under partnership, where at least one partner is a licensed medical practitioner. This would be a Limited Liability Partnership firm (LLP). An LLP ensures that the liability is limited to the clinic you operate and does not include any personal assets.

In all cases, you will need a PAN card, a GST number, a bank account, a business insurance and any other documents that your state or the country requires you to have, in the name of the clinic.

5. Appoint consultants

There are some resources you must tie up with, like a lawyer, an accountant, and a CA, who will be available for consultation. An accountant will take care of the regular maintenance of accounts. A lawyer is especially necessary if you are into a line of sensitive procedures, such as cosmetology, or if you frequently handle celebrities as patients. A CA will guide you on tax planning and other tasks throughout the year.

6. Identify the location

Your clinic should not only be convenient for you and your patients to access, but should also suit the ‘type’ of your offering.

  • If you are a cosmetology expert or a psychiatrist, your patients may prefer some privacy coming in and going out
  • If you perform other minor procedures, your clinic’s location should be such that a vehicle carrying a patient can reach without any hassles

A parking facility is essential, too; if you can’t manage private parking, ensure a public parking plot is not too far away. Lastly, while it is important to have your clinic in a place where you can have maximum footfalls, do not have it too close to another doctor from your own field.

7. Set your clinic timings

Your clinic timings should be suitable for the kind of patients you see. For example, if you are a psychiatrist or if you offer physiotherapy services, the clinic may have to be kept open until late hours and on weekends for office-goers. Specialists, like an orthopaedic surgeon or an ophthalmologist can see patients basis appointments only.

8. Appoint support staff

To ensure your clinic offers a good standard of services and consistently at that, you will need either permanent or service-based personnel. So take your time appointing the personnel you need and ensure they are efficient, responsible and gentle.

If you are sure of having many patients, it would be a good idea to appoint an intern or a junior doctor. For smaller clinics, you can have one person double up as a receptionist and an administrator. However, make sure you have at least one ward boy or a nurse to help elderly patients or to assist any patient arriving in emergency.

9. Figure out equipment and EHR systems

Clinicians often wonder if they should buy older versions of equipment to keep the costs low or buy advanced equipment for offering better treatment. The answer is not simple. If you practice non-invasive treatment or want your clinic to be known for state-of-the-art equipment or advanced treatments, you will obviously need the latest equipment, which will be expensive. Otherwise it is best to go by your business plan.

If you intend to go high-end with your software and medical record-keeping, invest in the best of Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems with compliances and cybersecurity licenses. But avoid going overboard with the investment here if you can run with an organised filing or data management system.

10. Plan patient acquisition 

You can only promote your new location of practice if you have a list of patients to reach out to, to spread the word. That depends upon the number of patients, who know you from your previous workplace, the loyalty of your patients and the reputation you have built so far.

In case you cannot use the means stated above, then subtle promotions through signage around the clinic, your personal social media account and brochures at specific touchpoints can help. The scale of promotions and the choice of an appropriate channel will also depend upon the size of your clinic or how well-known you are in your city.

These ten points are the foundation of your plan of starting a clinic. Once you have answers to these in place, you will be able to handle the other micro aspects easily.

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