Anticipating pitfalls is a fundamental part of the clinical side of medicine and a physician just starting should apply that same thinking to establishing a private practice.
Organization: Consider using a planner to write down things daily. Using a project-management tool can also help to keep all of your tasks and subtasks together and classified. This can help keep track of finance, operations, human resources, insurance and other essentials. You should also keep meticulous notes on every conversation that involves the startup.
Documentation—get everything in writing. Communicating via email can save you in many different way compared to phone or face-to-face conversations. That is because those options lack a paper trail. Expect that sometimes contracts have to be canceled for nonperformance, refunds requested or terms renegotiated—and, at that moment, vendors’ recollections about promises will get vague. You’ll want to be able to prove dates, times and responses via email.
Time—budget for delays you can’t control. Give yourself a cushion. No matter how well organized you are, others won’t be—be it for a city permit, health plan network enrollment or other practice essentials. Simple tasks can be tedious when navigating automated systems. Often times you can’t even get a human on the phone anymore.
Trust—just because a deal is made doesn’t mean the work will be done. As negative as it sounds: trust no one. Don’t expect others to be as engaged with the process of opening the practice as you are. The solution: You have to be meticulous about checking behind everybody, every vendor, every company that you outsource to, no matter how big or how small, because all of these things affect your timeline and all of these things affect your approvals.
Knowledge—yours has gaps that must be filled. Anytime you’re an entrepreneur, regardless of what you are starting or in what industry, you have to be mindful of what you don’t know. Research, especially gaining the insights of physicians already in practice, will reduce expenses, frustrations and delays later on. Talk to as many people as you can who have done this before. Figure out what lessons you can learn from them before you start shelling out a bunch of money on things like electronic medical records, billing, insurance and credentialing.