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Among the many reasons you decided to enter the healthcare industry is likely your passion to serve and help others. Unfortunately, with the convoluted healthcare system individuals must navigate, patients may have difficulty affording the services they need or connecting with a provider of their choice. For this reason, many healthcare professionals have branched out and started their own healthcare businesses.
Best of all, it’s a win-win situation for both patients and providers. These medical practices are more accessible to the general public and may offer independent and flexible revenue streams for medical professionals. This can be increasingly valuable with the uncertain future of the health insurance system.
If you are a medical professional who is brainstorming new ways to provide value to patients or an innovative biotechnology product idea, is it worth going into business for yourself? And will your idea benefit others along the way? We’ve put together a few items to help you evaluate your healthcare business idea.
Healthcare needs are increasing in volume and diversity.
A large section of the population is aging and in need of specialized care at home or within assisted living facilities. This is just one example where there are plentiful business opportunities to reach a population in need of accessible, affordable care.
In general, there are more people with a greater variety of healthcare needs than ever before, which means there is a ton of market potential for new healthcare businesses catering to specific demographics and their unique needs.
Healthcare businesses are not just limited to providing physical medical care, either. You might consider starting a business related to manufacturing or distributing goods used in healthcare delivery, such as scrubs, IV bags, and lab equipment. The materials required for quality care are just as important as the care itself, and shortages of critical equipment have been increasingly common in the modern healthcare system.
Another avenue to consider for a healthcare business is virtual medical services, such as telemedicine or online pharmacy services. You can even monetize a healthcare blog with ads or user subscriptions.
Or, you might start a brick and mortar healthcare practice of your own. Owning and leasing commercial real estate — especially offices zoned for clinical services — can be a highly lucrative endeavor.
The current healthcare system is deeply flawed.
Of course, given the monumental expense of education and the massive risk involved with practicing medicine, one of the most powerful motivators for starting a medical business is it’s potential to generate a profit. Unfortunately, these days a doctor or specialist must cram their schedule with lots of short appointments to even turn a profit. So it’s simply harder to make a living as a healthcare professional than one would think.
And it’s worth it to diversify your income. Starting your own business may not make you completely immune to the challenges that billing insurance companies and disputing charges may present, but it can help you establish another revenue stream for added financial security in an increasingly uncertain climate.
Doctors aren’t the only providers who can open a medical practice.
Many states are allowing Nurse Practitioners (NPs) and Physician Assistants (PAs) to open their own practice with varying degrees of independence. Each state has their own regulatory compliance requirements for providers to adhere to and they are different for NPs and PAs. Read up on the existing limitations for PAs and NPs to decide if it’s worth it to you. Barton Association has a good blog post on which states are the friendliest for mid-level providers.
If you are a physician assistant (PA), visit the AAPA site for a comprehensive chart listing the status of the six key practice elements in each state. For NPs, see the chart below for practice regulation by state. This will give you an idea of where it may be most beneficial to open a healthcare business. According to a 2017 study by the AANP, almost half the U.S. states will allow for full practice abilities, while around 30% allow for reduced practice and just over 20% of states have restricted regulations for NPs. In restricted states, an NP must secure supervision of a physician or other provider in order to practice. States with “reduced practice” may limit the settings in which NPs can work and generally require collaboration, vs. supervision by another provider to practice patient care.
For more information on regulatory compliance for NP ownership by state, Nurse Key has a wealth of information.
Reduce your risk with a medical franchise.
If the idea of starting a health business from scratch sends you into cardiac arrest, you may consider purchasing a healthcare franchise. With a buy-in fee, you can essentially duplicate a business with proven success — and according to Small Biz Trends, several opportunities are ripe for the picking.
Health stores, chiropractic offices, senior care, home health, yoga and acupuncture centers, and healthcare staffing companies are among the most popular health franchise to purchase.
You can do more than just make money.
As you establish a new business, remember you can do a lot more than just make more money. Naturally, this will be a goal of your business, but you might also keep a greater humanitarian vision in mind. For example, if you do open a healthcare business, you might offer sliding scale services to address the financial challenges that may befall your patients.
You may also consider using some portion of the profits to provide free medical services within your community such as free blood pressure screenings or flu shots. These efforts will not only allow you to fulfill the humanitarian duties, but they can also serve as a marketing tactic by giving you the chance to share the details on your location and services. It’s generally well-received by the community, allowing you to see more growth and profits in the future. You can utilize a medical assistant to perform blood pressure checks or BMI screenings. Include the address and website of your nearest location on the screening form so they know where to reach you.
Healthcare marketing has never been easier.
And finally, the last point we’ll make on why you should consider operating your own healthcare business is the sheer availability of digital marketing tools like never before in history. Google maps makes it very easy to create and find local listings for free. Facebook and Instagram both offer social media fan pages as well as highly targeted advertising that allow you to pinpoint your selected demographic. Websites are also easier than ever to create with free or affordable templates on WordPress or Wix. If this isn’t your area of expertise, don’t worry, both platforms offer drag and drop website creation.
If those ideas aren’t enough for you, Fit Small Business also put together 35 medical marketing ideas for your practice.
Convinced yet? What are your setbacks or questions about starting your own medical business? Comment below and share this post with your friends.
Kaleigh Shufeldt is a writer, editor and content manager with a love of sustainability and healthy living. She spends her free time with her husband and dog, Duke, running, reading and cooking.