Thinking of starting your own medical practice? There is no substitute to experience. We can talk about it, think about it and philosophize about it, but to gain a sense of whether it is the right step for you, there is nothing like just doing it. My husband and I started his medical practice from scratch.

A few years and three facilities later, I started my own law practice and have had the privilege to help other providers open their doors, as well. Below are certain considerations that I hope will prove helpful to aspiring medical entrepreneurs: First, unless you have significant savings, you need a business loan from a bank or the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The initial costs of starting a medical practice are anywhere from $100,000 to $500,000 – depending on your area of practice. Startup costs include but are not limited to real estate and equipment expenses; supplies and employee wages; legal, accounting and consultant fees; marketing expenses; malpractice and credentialing costs; electronic health record and practice management systems; and so on.

Secondly, you need to negotiate your contracts with each private insurer. Medicare and Medicaid reimburse all physicians equally, but private insurers are not as equitable. Unless you are a great negotiator, consider hiring an experienced health care attorney or a consultant to negotiate rates on your behalf. Lastly, you need to comply with state and federal laws and regulations.

For example, you cannot practice without obtaining a state medical license; you will need a national provider identifier number for billing, as well as a DEA number issued by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (to prescribe medications). Thinking of providing certain ancillary services? Acquire specific certifications and registrations for each. Collaborating with other providers or with marketers? Ensure compliance with state and federal self-referral and anti-kickback laws. Regrettably, the healthcare industry is a highly regulated one, with complex rules surrounding virtually everything a provider does.

Ayesha Mehdi, JD, MHSA PartnerSpencer Fane LLP

The sense of ownership that arises with running your own practice is unrivaled in a larger system. There is only one success – to spend your life on your own terms. The good news is that as challenging as it can be to get your practice started, it is well within reach if you have the right team. Ayesha is a partner at Spencer Fane, LLP. She focuses her practices on advising healthcare practitioners and businesses.

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