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Checklist: How to Start a Medical Practice

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This blog was originally published in October 2021 and was updated in March 2024

Are you ready to fulfill your dream of starting your own medical practice? It's an exciting endeavor, but one that requires careful planning and organization. To ensure a smooth and successful launch, it is essential to have a comprehensive checklist in place.

Starting a medical practice is a significant undertaking and can be quite overwhelming. From securing funding and finding a suitable location to hiring staff and managing legal and administrative tasks, numerous crucial steps need to be taken. Without proper guidance and preparation, it's easy to overlook important details that could significantly impact the success of your practice.

To help you navigate through the process and ensure that no critical steps are missed, we have compiled a comprehensive “How to Start a Medical Practice Checklist” for starting a medical practice. By following this checklist diligently, you can set yourself up for a smooth and successful launch of your new independent practice. So, if you're ready to turn your dream into reality, let's dive into the essential steps you need to take.

Step-by-step new medical practice checklist

When starting a medical practice, it's important to follow a structured approach. This comprehensive "How to Start a Medical Practice Checklist" will guide you through conceptualization to operation, ensuring you have a solid foundation for your practice. By adhering to these steps, you will navigate the complexities of starting a medical practice with confidence, setting the stage for a successful and sustainable business.

Step 1: Develop a business plan

Developing a business plan is the cornerstone of starting a medical practice. This plan should identify your target population and conduct a thorough market analysis to understand the healthcare needs within your community. It's essential to assess the competition, identify potential challenges, and outline strategies for attracting and retaining patients. Your business plan will serve as a roadmap for your practice, helping you secure financing, choose the right location, and make informed decisions that align with your vision and goals for providing high-quality care.

Step 2: Choose the right legal structure

Choosing the right legal structure is a critical decision when starting a medical practice. Each structure, whether it's a sole proprietorship, partnership, or Limited Liability Company (LLC), has its own set of legal, financial, and operational implications.

Sole proprietorships offer simplicity but come with personal liability for business debts. Partnerships allow for shared responsibility but require clear agreements on profit-sharing and decision-making. LLCs provide liability protection and flexibility in management and taxation. Your choice will impact your practice's liability, tax obligations, and growth potential, making it essential to consult with legal and financial advisors to select the structure that best supports your practice's objectives.

Step 3: Set financing options

Securing the necessary funding is a pivotal step in the "How to Start a Medical Practice Checklist". Understanding how to get a medical practice loan is crucial, as the types of loans available can vary widely. Traditional loans, Small Business Administration (SBA) loans, and specialty medical practice loans are common options, each with their own terms, interest rates, and repayment schedules.

When seeking financing, it's important to prepare a detailed business plan and financial projections to demonstrate your practice's viability to lenders. Additionally, explore grants and investor opportunities specifically designed for healthcare ventures. With the right financing in place, you can cover the costs of starting and operating your new practice, from securing office space to purchasing equipment and hiring staff, setting a solid financial foundation for your medical practice's future success.

Step 4: Determine what you want your image, or your brand, to be

Although branding is usually thought of in regards to more commercial ventures, as a healthcare provider you will also need to establish an image that stays true to your basic mission and vision. This will become even more important as you complete another step in the process, marketing your practice to new patients.

Your brand will include your practice name and logo, as well as your culture and environment. These elements will be part of the “statement” you communicate to potential patients.

Step 5: Find an affordable and appropriate space for your practice

Determine the best location for your new practice, based on potential patients’ access abilities and preferences as well as your own needs. The primary consideration will be whether your patients can get to your office, as well as get in and out easily. If the space is on a busy road, for example, it may be difficult to access. You can save money initially by looking for an existing facility that has been vacated by another healthcare provider.

Your image or brand will also impact your choice of office space. The location and physical features of your practice should be in line with the image you want to project to patients. Small and convenient might be better in the long run than expansive and new, for example.

Step 6: Purchase appropriate equipment, including technology tools

One of the most important tools you need when starting a new practice is an electronic health record (EHR) system. Your EHR will enable you to provide higher-quality care more efficiently and will allow your patients to access their records, which encourages them to participate more in their care. If you plan to participate in a CMS incentive program, you will need the right EHR system to qualify for payments.

Step 7: Develop clear patient policies

Developing clear patient policies is another essential step in ensuring the smooth operation of your new medical practice. These policies should cover all aspects of patient care and interactions, including appointment scheduling, cancellations, no-shows, payment terms, confidentiality, and how medical records are handled.

By establishing these guidelines early on, you provide a framework for consistent and professional communication between your staff and patients, enhancing the overall patient experience.

Moreover, clear patient policies help in setting expectations, reducing misunderstandings, and maintaining a high standard of care.

It's also vital that these policies are compliant with healthcare regulations and laws, such as HIPAA in the United States, to protect patient privacy and rights. Providing these policies in written form to patients upon their first visit or through your practice's website can further ensure transparency and trust in the patient-provider relationship.

Download our New Independent Practices Checklist (FFS)

If you’re planning to start your own fee-for-service practice, this checklist gives you all the steps you need to take to get started.

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Step 8: Promote your new practice

Marketing may seem out of your wheelhouse as a healthcare provider, but you will need to promote your practice to potential patients in your community to establish a solid patient panel on opening day. Once you develop a reputation among existing patients, you can rely more heavily on word-of-mouth and patient reviews to promote your practice. Remember to stay true to your image, or brand, as you reach out and attract new patients. 

Start your independent practice with confidence with our free checklist

Starting a new independent practice can be a daunting task, but with this comprehensive checklist, you'll have everything you need to hit the ground running. From setting up your finances to establishing a strong online presence, and everything in between, this checklist covers all the essential steps to ensure your practice's success. 

So, take a deep breath, follow these guidelines, and get ready to make your mark in the industry! Want to get the full checklist? Download it here.


What technology and software do I need to set up for efficient practice management?

To ensure efficient practice management when starting a medical practice, it's crucial to invest in the right technology and software. A Clinical-First Electronic Health Record (EHR) system should be at the core of your technology setup, offering an intuitive interface and seamless integration with practice management tools. This should include appointment scheduling, patient registration, billing, and telehealth services to provide comprehensive care.

Additionally, consider software for secure communication, electronic prescribing, and health information exchange to enhance patient care and compliance. The choice of technology should support your practice's workflow, enhance patient experience, and ensure data security and privacy.

What insurance and billing processes do I need to establish for my practice?

Establishing effective insurance and billing processes is vital for the financial health of your new independent practice. Begin by obtaining the necessary credentials with insurance providers to accept a wide range of insurances, expanding your potential patient base.

Implement a billing system that can accurately and efficiently process claims, handle patient billing inquiries, and manage payments. Training your staff on the nuances of insurance verification, coding, and billing best practices is also essential. Additionally, consider the integration of electronic billing systems within your EHR to streamline the billing process, reduce errors, and accelerate reimbursement.

How do I choose the right location for my new independent practice?

Choosing the right location involves understanding your target patient demographic and selecting a location that is both accessible and in demand for healthcare services.

Consider factors such as proximity to hospitals, ease of access for patients (including parking and public transport options), and the competitive landscape. The location should align with your practice's specialization, offering visibility and convenience to your target audience.

Additionally, analyze the local healthcare market to ensure there is a sufficient patient base and not an oversaturation of similar services.