An independent practice is a business. A direct care practice, in particular, needs a solid business plan that addresses the details of operating productively. A business plan includes financial projections as well as plans and goals for patient panel size, practice location, and other logistics necessary to run a successful practice. Drafting a business plan for your new practice requires research, forecasts, and realistic objectives.
Given the financial structure of the direct care practice, careful planning can help ensure the practice’s success. Elements of a business include:
- Practice location
- Membership pricing structure
- Patient panel requirements
- Staffing requirements / plans
- Marketing plan
- Partnerships with other healthcare providers
- Financial projections
- Short-term and long-term goals
Be sure to include a plan for optimizing technology, especially electronic health records (EHRs) in your new practice.
As you draft a business plan for a new direct care practice you will need to determine where you want your practice to be located. Is there an area in your community that has a need for your services? What is convenient for your target patient population?
Setting your membership pricing structure will require financial planning and projections. Some factors to consider are time, variable costs, and overhead (including the cost of growing the practice). Will you offer reduced fees for children and the elderly? You will also need to determine whether you will accept any type of insurance, including whether to accept Medicare patients. Pricing and financial projections will also need to include your ideal patient panel size, both now and when growing your practice.
The marketing section of your business plan will include a section on how to educate patients about the direct care model. Include how you will create a website, how often you will post on social media, and if you need to contract with a professional to help you with outreach and promotional efforts.
The key to drafting a business plan is to be realistic and to treat the plan as a living, usable document. Be realistic about the potential patient base in the location you’ve chosen for your practice as well as in your financial projections and planning. There will be a ramp-up period for a new practice, so include realistic start-up costs, promotional costs, and staffing costs. Then project your growth based on comparisons with other independent practices in your area and on the population you will serve.
Use the business plan to track and manage your business on an ongoing basis. It is not a document to be completed and put on a shelf. Your business plan will be your guide to managing a successful practice and to planning your growth as a direct care practice.