American Osteopathic Association

Advancing the distinctive philosophy and practice of osteopathic medicine

Starting A Practice: Avoiding the Pitfalls

​Physicians who decide to start their own practice have many decisions to make to avoid potential pitfalls prior to seeing their first patient.  In light of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the increasingly complicated regulatory environment, physicians should structure their practice to be in compliance with the applicable state and federal regulations.  Prior to starting a practice, physicians need to evaluate the needs in the target community where the proposed practice will be located, staffing requirements, and what type of services will be provided to the practice’s patients.

The process of starting a practice requires a physician to prioritize the tasks and evaluate personal and professional values and goals. Developing a practice plan and re-evaluating and revising the practice plan can keep the physician and practice on course for success.  Physicians will need to retain a team of qualified professionals including health care consultants, accountants, attorneys, IT professionals, insurance brokers, and vendors who work with medical practices. 

Mistakes to Avoid

Time is of the essence when starting a practice. Physicians who decide to start their own practice often are entrepreneurial and are seeking more autonomy to make decisions that will enable the physician to take care of their patients. Some of the common pitfalls that physicians make when starting a practice include failing to allocate enough start-up time and financial resources; undercapitalization; recruiting and hiring staff; choosing an electronic health record (EHR) system; and not allowing for enough time to become credentialed and enrolled with payers and secure provider numbers. 

Identify Your Goals

In preparation for starting a new practice, whether it is a partnership with other physicians, as a solo practitioner, or in a multi-specialty clinic or other health care organization, one of the most important tasks for physicians is to identify the impetus for starting their practice in order to determine the professional and personal values and goals that will be the foundation for the new practice. Transitioning into a new practice environment or making a new career choice should encourage physicians to carefully evaluate their personal and professional core values. It may be a good exercise for a physician who is contemplating starting a practice to spend time assessing the feasibility and viability of starting the practice based upon operational, financial, and administrative considerations in order to formulate a mission or vision statement.

About the author: Clark Hill attorney Jayme Matchinski concentrates her practice on health care and corporate law. She handles regulatory compliance, reimbursement, licensure and certification issues affecting health care providers, health care transactions, and the purchase, sale and formation of health care entities. She has also successfully represented health care providers in reimbursement claims against insurance carriers and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

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