Having your own independent practice is an ideal step for medical practitioners across the hierarchy. The freedom of working for yourself and providing improved personal care to your patients serves as the primary impetus. However, there are a few things to be considered before placing one’s bets on an independent practice.
While planning for a private practice, the administrative roles, operational costs and network contracts with medical aids (insurance companies) are often considered as minor chores at best. It is only when the private practitioner actually begins that the reality dawns. These seemingly small tasks can take up a big chunk of time and cost you dearly.
Starting a private practice is similar to starting a business. It requires careful planning and efficient implementation. Here are the critical elements that make up a smart private practice.
In contrast to the popular belief, there is a lot of research and planning that goes into the opening of a private practice.
The viability of owning a private practice can vary based on the location. You might have to decide whether it will be a completely independent practice, a partnership, or a franchise setting. These concerns should be taken care of completely before setting up a practice.
A good way to start would be taking advice from other private practitioners. Research and determine whether your specialty is suited for private practice in your chosen locality.
Starting up a private practice involves a huge amount of initial investment. Depending on the location and your specialty, the set-up costs, operation costs, personnel and other resources will require funding.
If you are joining a franchise or a team of private physicians, these costs will be considerably lower. However, if you are going completely independent, you might have to tap into your savings. Plan your finances well in advance for running the practice without receiving steady income for few months.
Employed Practitioners are often legally bound to their employers by employment agreements with clauses that might require you to declare to your employer your private practice plans and operations. If you have a legal bond, it is best advised to consult an expert and get your contract analyzed to avoid hassles later on.
It is also advisable to take legal counsel about the laws and regulations to be followed by a private practitioner to avoid a healthcare lawsuits.
If you plan to accept insurance (Medical Aid), start setting up as early as possible. It is a long process and setting up insurance acceptance can be a daunting task for the first-timers.
Claim management and ensuring the payment of claims can also be a tough challenge to face. A reliable service provider or medical billing software can be used for handling all the insurance (Medical Aid) payments efficiently and effectively. This can reduce the reimbursement decline rate and reduce your administrative efforts.
In South Africa, the medical body South African Medical Association (SAMA) oversees the general medical welfare of the country. The private practice department (PPD) of SAMA supports and promotes the welfare of private practitioners.
Apart from such organizations, there are many independent practitioner associations (IPA) to assist and help practitioners. These organizations can help a private practitioner with tricky situations with medical aids and help calibrate their fee structures.
Having quality personnel dedicated to providing care to patients makes a huge difference. Before engaging with your employees or partners, make sure that your objectives and goals are aligned.
For medical practitioners, it is a brave decision to break the employment cycle and seek autonomy in their profession. A practice management and medical billing solution can help streamline your operations and give you the freedom from administrative functions to focus on delivering enhanced quality of care. Contact us to know more.