4 Questions to Answer Before Starting Your GI Practice
Do you march to the beat of a different drummer? Want to see patients on your own terms? Dream of being the boss and molding a gastroenterology practice in your own image? Then you may be ready to start one.
Invest in some preparation before you invest in a practice, and know that you’re not alone. Over the years, ModMed® has gained quite a bit of experience working with gastroenterologists to start new practices. Because we’re familiar with the challenges, we’re equipped to help you avoid hazards, look for new opportunities and take the right turns on the road to success.
When you’re ready to take the plunge, start by answering these four questions: Where do you want to work? Who will be your patients and your team members? What technologies will you need? How will you bring it all together?
#1. Where do you want to work?
This should be simple. What state? City? Zip code? Regulations and tax rules differ by jurisdiction, and they can impact your bottom line. Some areas have more GI competitors, which also means they have more patients, but you’ll have to market effectively to bring them in.
Do you enjoy a high floor overlooking the city or a quiet spot on terra firma? What do you think your patients will prefer?
Decide how many endo rooms you want and remember that if you choose cloud-based GI software, you can repurpose the space you won’t be spending on a server or paper files.
#2. Who will treat whom?
Who will be your patients? Who will be your referral base? Who will be your team members? Solo or partnership? Will you specialize in a particular condition, such as Crohn’s? Do you want your own endoscopy room, or will you work with an ambulatory surgery center? These are fundamental decisions for a gastroenterologist starting a practice.
The answers will help determine not only your space but also your team and your tools. Staffing is critical, and skimping can be costly, but the right GI software — electronic health records, practice management, patient engagement — can save labor time for the front desk, clinical staff, finance managers and admins. They’re all connected.
#3. What technologies will you need?
Think beyond the office equipment and instruments. What other technologies would help you get a gastroenterology practice up and running?
Medical staffers may be able to work more efficiently if the electronic health records software included check-in alerts, status updates and patient financial data. Plus, if the endoscopy report writer drew from the same database as the EHR system — same patient ID, same images, same reports — then efficiency could be enhanced even further.
Patient engagement tools, including appointment reminders and automated recalls, and practice management systems may speed up front desk functions such as scheduling patients, checking them in and out, and collecting payments. Finance managers may be able to speed up the revenue cycle with the latest tools for scrubbing claims and curing insurance denials.
If all these systems were integrated, overall efficiency could be even higher, and if they lived in the cloud, you wouldn’t need to buy and maintain your own server.
The gGastro® solution — EHR integrated with PM, ERW, patient engagement, and RCM — is just such an all-in-one system, accessible via browser, iPad and smartphone.
#4. How will you bring it all together?
Write a strategic plan. Describe your mission, vision, values, goals and objectives. Chart your activities to achieve each objective and the revenue and expense of each activity. Focus your planning on people, processes and software systems.
What kind of staff will you need? Defining the GI services you’ll offer is critical when hiring. Decide how you want each position to function. Also consider what type of people you enjoy working with. Culture and chemistry are important for a happy office.
What kind of practice manager will complement your own strengths? That position can make or break your work life. Remember that not every function needs to be staffed internally. You can contract for billing, payroll, benefits and many other services, and you offer online patient self-scheduling for specific appointment types.
The first process to figure out is how to get patients in the door. If you don’t have a marketing maven on staff, that’s OK. You can work with a firm that specializes in medical advertising, marketing and promotion — website design and maintenance, search engine optimization, blog creation, digital ads, campaign reporting, call tracking, reputation management.
Articulate how patients will move through your practice and hone your operating plan before you open. Making major changes later can disrupt your productivity, although sometimes changes are for the better — like more productivity, more efficiency, more leaving the office on time. But the best changes are the ones you don’t have to make because you got it right the first time.
Gastroenterologists often consider software a nuisance and pick systems that appear inexpensive at first but fail to deliver. Consider all the costs, savings and benefits, and beware of systems not really designed for gastroenterology.
Estimate how much it might cost to scroll through other specialties, hunting for the GI content, typing the same notes over and over, looking up billing codes — dozens of times per day. Then estimate the time you might save with all-GI workflows — your most common diagnoses and treatments presented first, notes suggested by the system, codes suggested by the notes….
What if the EHR were integrated with the endoscopy report writer, practice management software, billing and payment systems, and patient engagement tools?
What would you do with your extra time? See more patients? Leave the office at 5? Stop taking charts home? What would that be worth?
You’re not alone
Decided to take the plunge? Excellent. When you’re ready to start planning your new GI practice, consider hiring a consultant who’s helped start practices before, and look for banks, accountants and legal firms with medical practice experience.
For gastro-specific software, reach out to ModMed. You’ll benefit from our deep experience helping other gastroenterologists succeed in their practices. There’s a reason why gGastro EHR is #1, according to Black Book™ Research, and has been for years.
Let’s get you started. Visit modmed.com
This blog is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal or medical advice. Please consult with your legal counsel and other qualified advisors to ensure compliance with applicable laws, regulations and standards.