A Physician’s Guide to Relocating

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Relocation is a common practice both for personal and professional reasons. Some doctors may seek out new job opportunities or decide to open a solo practice in an underserved area. A spouse’s job opportunities or life circumstances could dictate that it’s time to move on. To do this properly, from a professional perspective, you will need to build a new practice whether you’re employed or independent. Here are some tips for relocating your practice no matter who signs off on your paycheck.

Relocating and Building a New Practice

An often-overlooked part of relocating your practice is the due diligence necessary to understand the market. Are you joining an established community practice in an FQHC? Or are you starting from scratch to build your own practice? Even if you’re joining an established facility, it’s a good idea to observe the market to know if the flow of patients will be what you expect. If you’re focusing on an underserved region, your practice will quickly take off because there is less competition to encroach on your market.

For doctors joining an existing practice, inquire about how the facility will announce your entrance into the region. What PR or marketing will help you launch your new venture? Of course, if you’re flying solo, this will be much more difficult because you will have to build your business on your own. You will need to work with a marketing firm, hire an experienced office manager, or do the hard work of acquiring patients and building referral relationships with your peers. You’ll probably use most of your marketing budget for the entire year in the first weeks and months of building your practice.

Many physicians are seeking retirement today or nearing that age where they’re slowing down. This presents an opportunity to buy an established practice. If you’re buying, keep in mind that many practices are severely overvalued. Don’t leave this to chance and hire a medical practice appraiser to double-check those numbers.

Acquiring an existing practice, particularly in saturated markets, might be the best choice. But you will have to work hard to retain existing patients, especially if they’re used to dealing with the prior clinical provider and the “way things were always done.” It’s a good idea to ease into this transition and introduce any changes gradually. Give patients a good 90-day notice where workflows and general practices remain static. Slowly with your staff to introduce new procedures affecting patient care, billing—or anything else. It’s standard operating procedure for the prior physician owner to send out a letter to patients introducing you. Don’t settle for that, however. Make sure you include a picture of you and the prior doctor shaking hands with a message from him or her similar to “I know I’m leaving you in good hands.” Follow that with a 60-day correspondence or some sort of a health promotion (back-to-school physicals, or geriatric wellness exams, etc.) inviting patients back. Have your staff call patients individually to see if they have any questions about the transition and have them schedule any missed or past due appointments.  This is a good way to stay up on HEDIS measures too!

No matter your next career move, UHC Solutions is standing by to help you with your transition. We specialize in permanent placement of providers within FQHC facilities. If you’re considering a change of scenery, why not give us a call to find out more about the benefits of working in a community healthcare setting?