If you are a practicing physician and have your own medical practice, you are well aware of the difficulties faced in starting a new medical practice. It requires tremendous patience before patients start flowing in. Relocating your medical practice can be an equally daunting task especially if one is planning to relocate to a completely different state. Numerous amendments need to be put in place before one can start off legally. Hence, most physicians avoid relocating their set up in order to avoid going through registrations all over again not to mention the fear of losing their patients. Let us look at some of the best practices that should be kept in mind when relocating the medical practice in order to make the process smooth and less intimidating.
In this article
When a physician decides to relocate medical practice in another state, he needs to apply for a new license/permit as per the laws of that state. While relocating in the same state1 does not require new licenses, but one must remember to notify the concerned authorities about the change of address like the insurance agencies, patients, the degree providing university, chartered accountant, IT department etc. Notify all these authorities of your new address before you begin your new practice.
Remember to pay off all the pending bills or rent before leaving the old premise. One of the most important things is to check all the paper work when you lease a new place, to avoid any unwanted delays in starting a new practice.
Informing the previous patients
Bear in mind that your present patients are as important as the new ones. Do not err in believing that the present patients are now not your responsibility. Remember that they are not only important to you to bring in new patients, but also important medico-legally. Inform your current patients by putting up a notice at your clinic at least 30 days prior to your relocation. In today’s times, technology has made it very convenient to reach out to large numbers of people at a time. Use the web, emails, sms, etc. to notify all your current patients about your relocation. This will not only help them look out for a substitute, but help you gain references from them.
Arranging transfer of Patient Care
Medico-legally and ethically it is very important that you arrange for a transfer of your patients to a new and equally competent doctor for care. In case of relocation to a place close to your present practice, some patients may choose to continue with you. If you are referring your patients to another practitioner, choose someone who is efficient and reliable. You do not want to lose the years of faith they had in you by transferring them to an incompetent practitioner.
Arranging Transfer of Medical records
When relocating your medical practice, you must remember to carry all previous medical records of your patients. Avoid discarding them for at least a year, especially if you are relocating to a far-off location. But as discussed earlier, storing physical medical records is a big headache and a highly inefficient process. Consider using an EMR software like Practo Ray and digitize all your medical records.
Before shifting base, remember to take care of your previous staff. Check if you can help them get another job. When you hire your new staff, check their credentials and experience. Before you begin your practice, allocate responsibilities and train them for smooth functioning of the practice from day one.
Marketing at the new location
In ancient times, marketing strategies were considered unimportant. Patients would be very loyal to the family physician and referrals would come from them. But in today’s advanced times, with the extreme cut-throat competition, marketing is the ‘MANTRA’. Even if you are best of practitioners, it is very important to market yourself well to have a constant flow of patients. Of course, your previous patients are going to be the best marketing agents for your relocated practice. Inform them well in advance about your relocation and be sure of their health care transfer. You can print the pamphlets with the new address, the location map, date of shifting etc. and distribute them among your present patients. You would also want to make sure that people around your new location are informed about your new practice. You can print flyers and distribute them around. Remember to update your website or webpage, blog, facebook, twitter accounts about the relocation. This will not only help to inform the old patients but bring in new ones also. You can also hire a medical practice manager to help you market yourself well. You can also contribute healthcare write-ups as a regular columnist or an article writer for your local newspaper to promote your name3.
Relocating your medical practice is not a very simple task. But it can be made successful with careful planning and good organisation.
Contributed by Dr. Rachita Narsaria, MD