When planning to buy and set up your own General Practice (GP), there are several key issues to consider.
- Financial Planning: carefully assess the financial implications of purchasing your own practice. This includes considering the costs associated with purchasing or leasing your premises, acquiring equipment and medical supplies, hiring staff, and meeting ongoing operational expenses. You should create a comprehensive business plan and financial forecast to ensure you have the necessary resources and funding in place.
- Legal and Regulatory Requirements: owning a practice versus working in a practice, brings a whole new level of legal responsibility. GPs need to familiarize themselves with the legal and regulatory framework governing healthcare practices, including understanding accreditation requirements, professional standards, insurance obligations, and compliance with healthcare regulations. Engaging legal and regulatory experts can help navigate these complexities. There are also many resources available through entities such as AHPRA, RACGP and your medical indemnity organisation that may assist in navigating the legal and regulatory requirements. Additionally, it’s important to familiarise yourself with all the different insurance options available, such as Business Insurance, Practice Insurance, and Cyber Insurance when setting up a practice.
- Location and Premises: Choosing an appropriate location for the practice is crucial. Factors such as accessibility, competition, and the availability of necessary infrastructure should be considered. It’s also important to assess the suitability of potential premises, taking into account size, opportunity for future expansion, layout, lease agreements, compliance with building codes, and any necessary renovations and fit-out.
- Patient Population and Demand: As with any business venture, it is valuable to conduct a thorough analysis of the local population and existing healthcare services to understand the demand for your proposed service. Assessing the demographics, healthcare needs, and potential patient base will help determine the viability and sustainability of your practice.
- Staffing and Human Resources: As you are no doubt aware, your practice is only as good as the people in it, so building a competent and supportive team is paramount to success. You should consider the staffing requirements, including hiring administrative staff, nurses, and other healthcare professionals. Recruiting, training, and retaining skilled employees should be part of the plan. Understanding employment laws and regulations, and fostering a positive work environment, are also crucial considerations when purchasing your own practice.
- Technology and Information Systems: Adopting efficient and secure technology systems is becoming increasingly important in healthcare practices. Consider electronic health records (EHR) systems, practice management software, appointment scheduling, billing systems, and data security measures. Integration with local healthcare networks and compliance with privacy laws are vital for safeguarding patient information.
- Marketing and Patient Engagement: GPs should develop a marketing strategy to raise awareness about the new practice and attract patients. This may involve creating a website, establishing an online presence, leveraging social media platforms, and engaging in community outreach. Being aware that your website is a potential patient’s first impression of your business, may influence your decisions on how much to invest in a quality website.
- Collaboration and Referrals: Explore opportunities for collaboration with other healthcare providers in the area. Building referral networks and establishing relationships with specialists, hospitals, diagnostic centers, and allied health professionals can enhance the quality of care provided and facilitate patient referrals.
- Personal and Professional Well-being: Last but not least, it’s essential to prioritize your own well-being and work-life balance. Running a practice can be demanding, and it’s crucial to manage stress, maintain self-care, and seek support when needed. GPs should consider professional development opportunities to stay updated with medical advancements and maintain the quality of care provided.
It’s important for you to seek professional advice from experts, such as healthcare consultants, accountants, and legal professionals, to navigate these considerations effectively and make informed decisions when Purchasing your own practice. Finding a mentor who has paved the way before you, may also provide invaluable support as you navigate the hurdles in establishing a new practice.