“Hmm, Direct Care sounds amazing. I’d love to do that.”
Ever said or even thought those words? Do you fall into any of the categories we talked about here? So why haven’t you started your practice yet? Maybe this Direct Care thing is new to you. Maybe you’ve heard about it but don’t know where to start. Or maybe you’re just scared to take the leap. In part two of this two-part series, we’re flattening the road ahead so there’s nothing but a clear path from you to the front doors of your Direct Care practice.
It all boils down to two things:
Before we get into all the details, there are two things you should keep in mind at all times.
First, you have to do the work. You have to get your hands dirty, do the research, make the phone calls, ask the questions and launch the website. You have to put in the extra man hours to get this thing up and running – just like any other small business. The great part about Direct Care is that you don’t have to worry whether it’s sustainable or not. The model is built on a foundation that provides a quality service people are more than happy to pay for because it saves them time, money, and adds value to their lives. Once you have your brick and mortar foundation laid, you get to do what you love and many times the rest will fall into place.
Second, it’s okay that you’re not an expert in running a business. You went to medical school, after all. But because you went to med school, you’re going to need to lean on someone else for support while getting your practice off the ground. That’s right, you don’t have to do this alone. In fact, we offer practice management consulting services absolutely free of charge. Whether you’re in the beginning stages of opening your doors or just need a little help along the way, you can call us. We’ve helped hundreds of practices open already and have several more in progress; their success is like our drug.
Okay. Have your list ready? You know, the one with all the reasons you can’t start your practice? Good. Let’s go.
Excuse #1: I have no idea where to start.
You’re considering starting something completely new – of course it’s daunting. But it’s also really exciting! The first thing you should do is finish reading this article, and then hop over to the Direct Care Curriculum, where you can learn more about every single aspect of starting your practice. There will be some biggies to check off the list over time (like finding a location and getting set up with the right equipment), and some smaller items you can work through more quickly (like naming your practice and creating a brand for it). Everyone’s first step is going to look a little different depending on where you’re starting so let’s talk about your current situation so we can map out a path forward.
- Are you currently employed? Are you under contract with that employer? Is there a non-compete policy? You’ll want to find out how to get out of those contracts and around the non-compete if it applies.
- Are you starting straight out of residency and starting with a fresh slate? If this is you, you have a little more flexibility and can hit the ground running a little faster. For you, give your practice a name, establish a legal business and call your realtor!
Excuse #2: I have contracts I have to get out of.
If you’re transitioning from a traditional healthcare environment, you’ll probably have things like private insurance contracts to cancel and medicare to opt out of. Yes, you’ll actually need to cancel and opt out, but let that sink in for a minute – you can cancel and opt out. You didn’t sell your soul when you signed on the dotted line and you can cut that red tape just like so many others have done before you. Unless the person handling your contracts is also your raging-mad bookie, you haven’t done anything you can’t undo.
Excuse #3: It’ll take too long.
Only if you let it! Did you know that once you’ve wrapped up your existing employment contract, cancelled your private insurance contracts, opted out of medicare and established a business entity it usually only takes about three months to open the doors? That’s it. Three. Imagine your life looking totally different in just 90 short days.
Excuse #4: I don’t have the money.
While you will need some money to get things started, the good news is that you don’t need to cut off an arm and leg before you get to watch your dreams come true. It’s easy to get wrapped up in all the equipment and whatnot you’ll want, but unless you’re a specialty, you probably won’t need a whole lot of that stuff. In fact, the majority of your startup costs will go toward your location. It boils down to this: get what you need, start working and go from there. You can grow as your roster demands. (For details on what exactly you will need, check out this DPC curriculum course on exactly how much it takes to start a DPC practice.)
Excuse #5: What if my patients don’t come with me?
Some of them won’t. They’ll be change averse and more comfortable with what they already know… even if that is being shuffled in and out the door in 7 minutes. On the flip side, though, some of them will come with you. And they’ll tell their friends, who will tell their neighbors… you see where we’re going with this. You don’t have to bring your entire panel with you when you transition. In fact, you can’t, and you don’t want to. DPC docs typically see hundreds of patients where docs in a traditional healthcare environment cram in thousands. It’s how we have time for 45 minute appointments, home visits and research in the middle of the day.
Excuse #6: I don’t know if people in my area are interested in DPC.
If Direct Care is new in your community, first of all you should be jumping for joy because you’re the first in the market. That should be reason alone for you to move ahead full speed! But if you’d like more proof that you’ll be offering something patients really value, you can always ask. It’s just that simple. Pass out this survey to get a better idea where their heads, hearts and wallets are.
Excuse #7: I’m a doctor, not an accountant/marketer/salesperson/business owner.
Ahhh, yes, you’re worried about having to shove your business idea down everyone’s throat. Or keeping the books so you don’t goof and lose money. Fair enough – but here’s the thing. You don’t have to be a sales person or have an MBA to spread the word about your practice. In fact, you already have the tools you need to do it; you know how to educate people and be a good doctor. This topic is so important we wrote an entire post on it over here. The accounting thing is easier than you might think, too. Having a part-time accountant handy could be helpful, but many DPC clinics find it’s not necessary given the tools their EMR provides. Well, at least the practices using the Atlas.md EMR say that!
Excuse #8: I don’t know what equipment I’ll need.
Knowledge is power, so you just need to do a little research and find out what you’ll need vs what you want. We mentioned earlier that you don’t need a full-blown office equipped with every gadget you might use someday in the future. Start off with the basics and grow as you’re able. That’s what we did when we were starting out, and today we’ve grown to multiple locations! In all actuality you can start with little more than a stethoscope and your phone. You weren’t expecting that, were you? Read more here.
Excuse #9: I can’t afford an EMR.
Ohhh, but you can. The Atlas.md EMR offers a free trial so you can get all your patient information loaded and everything else set up while you’re transitioning. When your doors open, you’ll already be fully functional and ready to enter patient data, notes, vitals, connect with their fitness devices, order labs, prescribe and dispense medications… the list goes on. But the point is that you don’t have to spend a dime up front. Oh, and what’s worth even more than money is the support you’ll be getting. That free practice management consulting absolutely applies to the EMR, too – so you can get the most out of an EMR built for Direct Care practices by Direct Care professionals.
Excuse #10: I’m scared.
We’d be a little worried if you weren’t. It’s natural, it’s good, and it’s a sign that you’re about to do something very big. The important thing here is to not let that fear cripple you. Just take the first step. We’ll hold you by the arm. Then take another step and before you know it you’re putting one foot in front of the other like you’ve been doing it your whole life. Again, you don’t have to do this alone; lean on us for help in the beginning and you’ll very quickly figure out that you know more than you think. After all, the whole point is to love your job while providing excellent quality care to patients, right? You get to write the rules. You get to decide your office hours. You get to choose how big your panel gets, and you get to do your best work your way. That’s what loving your job looks like.
It’s time to go DO THE WORK. If there is anything left on that excuse list of yours, please please please let us know in the comments. We’d love to break down that wall for you – whether it’s 10 feet high or there are just a few bricks left. Let’s do it together, in the name of Direct Care.