Starting your own business is exciting and challenging. All the responsibility rests on your shoulders, but you have the freedom to run your business exactly the way you want and your income potential is much higher.
In the field of medicine, getting started as an independent nurse practitioner is expensive and requires you to follow a large number of federal and state regulations. Patient safety and privacy are huge considerations for anyone looking to open up their own practice.
Putting these challenges aside, starting your own medical office can be worth the investment of time, money, and energy in the long run. There’s likely to be a major shortage of primary care physicians within the next decade or so and nurse practitioners should have no trouble finding a large patient base.
So, how can you help ensure that your new practice is a success? Here are some tips for starting your business off on the right foot.
Create a Business Plan
The first step in starting a business as a nurse practitioner is creating a business plan. As a medical professional, you’re used to the process of providing care. However, that doesn’t mean you know how to think like a business owner, and you need to get into an entrepreneurial mindset. In addition to providing top-notch patient care, you have to be able to make smart, strategic decisions and stick to a budget so that you can turn a profit.
Creating a business plan serves more than one purpose. It serves as the vision and roadmap for your independent practice. It helps you understand what will need to go into building a business that can be sustainable. It will help ensure that you’re looking at your medical practice from every angle so you don’t overlook anything.
A business plan is also important for anyone who might invest in your practice. Investors will want to see that you have done your homework and thought about different aspects of running a business, including your anticipated costs and potential challenges and risks.
Figure Out What Sets You ApartAs you’re creating your business plan and brainstorming about your future practice, think about what makes you different as a provider. What can you offer patients that’s hard for them to get from other providers? It can be something as simple as offering a more personalized experience — it doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but these small things will help set you apart.
Some nurse practitioners who go into private practice ultimately decided to provide house calls instead of seeing patients in an office setting. There are different options depending on what kinds of services you want to offer and what the demand is in your area.
If you want to provide more in-depth care for your patients, you might consider working in a single specialty rather than being a family nurse. It all depends on your goals, areas of interest, and potential demand for your services.
Choose the Right Funding Option
Opening a private practice can be very expensive. There are many different options for getting the startup capital you need, and the option you should choose will depend on your situation. You can apply for various loans or a line of credit. You might also want to consider finding investors to work with. If you’re not sure how to proceed, it’s a good idea to get help from a financial advisor experienced in business investing.
Make Sure Your Licenses are Up to Date
It’s important not to leave anything to chance when you’re opening your own practice, so double-check that your required medical licenses are up to date before you proceed. You will also need to register with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in order to prescribe controlled substances.
Regulations and licensure requirements should be top priority for you as an independent nurse practitioner. Depending on your state’s regulations, you might have different requirements that you need to meet.
Get Your Billing and Insurance Contracts Squared Away
Dealing with insurance can be one of the worst aspects of being a nurse practitioner in private practice. However, getting a solid billing system set up and making sure you have your contracts set up with insurers is critical.
Unfortunately, it can take a while to get reimbursed for your services, especially at the beginning, so be prepared for some delays. Some insurance companies also reimburse at a lower rate for nurse practitioners than they do for physicians performing the same services, so be sure you understand what the terms are before you proceed.
Ensure You Have Hospital Privileges
In some cases, you might have to admit your patients to a local hospital. Negotiating privileges before you open your practice will ensure that you can give your patients the care they need, when they need it.
Emphasize Your Online Presence
When you start a new practice, you’ll need an attractive and functional website to act as your “storefront.” Most people look for medical providers online, so that’s probably where you will want to focus your marketing efforts. Attracting patients is about more than providing good medicine — it’s also about good marketing.
Be Prepared for Cyber Threats
Patient confidentiality and privacy is incredibly important — HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) sets standards for keeping and maintaining patients’ sensitive health information. As the owner of a medical practice, you’ll be in charge of keeping patient records safe — which means you’ll need to implement cybersecurity protocols and reduce the chances of a data breach.
Consider the Future When Selecting an Office
When you’re looking for office space, you might be tempted to choose a very small office at an affordable price. While it does make sense to minimize expenses as much as you can, you also need to think about future growth. Would you be able to move into a bigger facility without much trouble if your business outgrew the space?
Think about how much space you really need for you, your staff, your equipment, and patient needs. Location is also important, of course. You will need to weigh the pros and cons of the location, the amount of space, and the price in making your final decision.
Be Prepared to Overcome Challenges and Setbacks
Starting a business isn’t easy, especially if you haven’t done it before. If you decide to start your own practice, it’s important to remember that you will face challenges and setbacks. It’s always best to have a plan B and to evaluate potential risks as you continue to build your practice.
Going into business with the mindset that you’ll overcome anything that comes up will help you get through the difficult times. If you have the determination to get through the setbacks and challenges, you will be much more likely to succeed as a business owner. Don’t forget to ask for help when you need it — and don’t let the challenges hold you back!