The realities of launching and running a DPC practice can be stressful and challenging for you and the people closest to you. Here are some things to think about as you get started, so that you and your family can better manage the stress and face the challenges on the road to success.
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Plan for Personal and Business Challenges
Some DPC practices are able to quickly build a good-sized panel by converting their FFS patients to members, however you should plan for a possible — or likely — reduction in income as you work to build your panel. It’s critical that you take steps now to make sure you’re as financially and mentally prepared as possible prior to launching.
Start by having an open and honest family discussion about how things will change. Don’t limit yourself to just talking about income and other dollars-and-cents issues. Think about how it could impact your family’s lifestyle, including things like vacations, education and entertainment, along with community and charity work.
Use these questions to guide your conversation:
- Income: How much could our income be reduced before the DPC practice takes off? How much do we really need to cover essential expenses? Are there other sources of income or opportunities that could make up the difference?
- Lifestyle: What are we willing to give up to increase savings prior to launch? What discretionary spending can we reduce?
- Home life: How many hours a week can I work and still be a good spouse and parent? How much are other family members able to work or pitch-in? How many hours do we really want to work?
Don’t limit yourself to these questions. The key point is that you want to take a holistic look at your life.
Once you‘ve had your family discussion, work together to come up with a plan for addressing the challenges you could face in the future. Planning for these things as a family will better prepare you for facing them together when they happen.
Tip: Consider meeting with a financial advisor. They’re an impartial sounding board that can offer you fresh perspectives on your personal and business finances.
Prepare for Being an Entrepreneur
The Good News: You already have many of the skills needed to run a business.
The Bad News: You still have a lot to learn and do to succeed.
As a business owner, you must understand things like cash flow and billing, along with paying staff and the IRS. You’ll also need to attract new customers, while keeping the ones you have.
Fortunately, you don’t need to be a business expert on day one. There’s plenty of support out there from family, friends and other people you’re connected to. You can also reach out to DPC doctors in your area, or join online communities.
Tip: Hint’s online community is a good place to ask questions.
Some questions to get you started:
- What type of business entity makes the most sense for my situation (e.g. LLC, Corp, LLP)?
- What services do I want to offer? Which do I want to avoid?
- How large should my practice be?
- How will I find new patients?
- How much do I need to earn in monthly membership fees to break even and to succeed?
- When can I expect to take a salary?
- How much time am I willing to devote to patients?
- How many hours am I willing to put into administrative tasks?
New questions will come up as you move closer to launch, and even more after you open your DPC practice. The key thing is to start thinking like a business person before you launch, so you can build a plan for entrepreneurial success over the long term.
Setting a Foundation for Success
If you want to build a solid foundation for your Direct Primary Care practice, you need to have honest conversations — and ask yourself tough questions — today. But if you’re willing to do the hard work now, then you’re more likely to experience personal and job satisfaction long into the future.
Remember: You don’t have to know it all and do everything on your own. What’s important is to ask for help as you get started on your journey and whenever you need it along the way.