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Setting up a private practice – phase two

By Karen Crouch
In step two of her three part series on establishing a practice, KAREN CROUCH details the preliminary tasks that must be completed in order for the prospective owner to proceed with certainty.

Following our previous article on Starting a Practice, we will move to the next bracket of activities.

However, before we start it’s important to ensure we have first completed a Business Plan & Feasibility Study. Aspiring owners need to carefully analyse all ‘foundation’ steps to ensure a clearly documented ‘road map’ of their plans for the venture. This includes all financial elements, so that the new owners are confident the venture will provide high quality healthcare and reasonable rewards (profits);

This means an appropriate business structure must been created. The structure can be used to secure premises and for applications to finance lenders;

Owners must also be comfortable with the demographics of their operating area, which is why the premises selection is so important. This also involves negotiating occupancy terms and conditions, and maknig it ready to be fitted out;

Finally, an application needs to be submitted to a lender and ‘in principle’, if not formal, approval received.

Phase two

Design: Owners must define the ‘look and feel’ of premises that suit their personal tastes. Room design and workflow speaks volumes about patients’ perception of healthcare and the personalised attention they will receive from staff and clinicians;

"Owners must be comfortable with the demographics of their operating area, which is why the premises selection is so important"

Fit Out & Construction: This component requires meticulous planning as several interdependent suppliers, possibly including Council approval, must be coordinated to ensure timely completion. Roles of external service providers, e.g. telecommunications, technology, must be performed in sequential order to ensure no stone is left unturned;

Mid-term review: A Project Plan progress review should identify delays in deliverables or missed targets. Remedial action must be taken along with suitable modifications to Plans. If the delay will impact any milestone dates, the possibility of a start date deferral may require consideration;

Testing to go live: Probably the most critical activity to ensure all equipment and facilities function smoothly and that staff are familiar with technological aspects of their roles;

Business Insurance: The business must be suitably insured against events that may negatively impact operations, including Public Liability and a good Business Insurance Pack;

Recruitment: Engagement of administrative/clinical employees are undertaken in parallel with the aforementioned activities, including execution of various employee contracts (e.g. casual, permanent, contractor, licensee). This critical task requires time and effort involving job advertisements, receipt and screening of resumes, interview appointments, and interviewing – first to create a ‘short list’ and secondly to select and appoint. In order to recruit appropriately, Position Descriptions must be prepared and management structures (administrative and clinical) finalised so recruiting personnel (agents or owners) fully understand the type of person required for each role;

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Other (Practice & Business Management) Plans: These background actions are undertaken so staff have clear reference sources for performance of tasks/jobs and so that all necessary tools are in place. This includes budgets, monitoring, risk management, supplier management, staff induction and assessments, records management, Policy & Procedure Manual, meetings, and board/owners’ management plans.

Other (set-up):

Practice Furniture: Should be colour coordinated and compatible with general office layout;

Logo Design & business documents: Owners, or design specialists, should develop a pictorial theme that depicts their business on all documents including cards;

Business plans provide clear reference sources
Business plans provide clear reference sources

Website & Marketing: Creation of a meaningful, informative website is essential. It may also be employed for patient bookings and other communications. Professional web designers are usually engaged; Hardware and Software: You must consider a cloud v on-site IT solution. There are various software applications for practices and familiarity with more than one will help you select the most appropriate;

Medical Equipment/Furniture/Supplies: A clinical person should review available options and select the most suitable;

Security: Engagement of a Security firm is straight forward but internal facilities must also be installed to secure the premises and to alert the security firm if required;

Signage: An important aspect, displaying the practice name and details, as it advertises services offered and professionals who administer them;

Telephone System: Usually arranged with a reputable supplier but may require knowledge of a few to select from;

Registrations: Each clinician must have appropriate registrations in place with MBS, PBS and DVA prior to operation;

Waste Disposal: A facility secured through an experienced provider;

Miscellaneous: Toys and TV are some items that are required for a well-equipped waiting room.

Part one of the series can be read here.

Part three of the series will deal with initial operational considerations.


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