If you’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit and you’re ready to take the next steps in your career, consider opening your own Nurse Practitioner clinic. Margaret Jean Wear, FNP-C and owner of Adolescent Healthcare Associates in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, gave us the inside scoop on the best entrepreneurial, intellectual, and technological resources for new NP clinics.
- AANP website– While there’s plenty of information on the internet, be cognizant of its source. The American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) is the largest, most respected professional membership organization for nurse practitioners in the nation. Since their inception in 1985, the AANP has continued to be a trusted resource- one which Wear can’t recommend highly enough. Especially during the research phase of opening your own clinic, consult the AANP website and other trusted industry websites for in-depth industry updates, legislation information, and other timesaving tools.
- Web Designer- When it comes to websites, don’t forget to prioritize the development of your own! Remember, great design is about more than aesthetics- stay focused on your site’s utility. Using samples provided by her attorney, Wear had her web designer add timesaving forms to her site including privacy notices, HIPAA consent forms, immunization forms, and patient information for her Spanish-speaking clients. When patients come into her office, they can easily click the link, print out the form from their home computer, and bring it in. Smart website additions like these save time and keep your schedule running smoothly.
- Attorney- When dealing with legal issues, you want someone in your corner who you trust implicitly. In your case, you’ll need an attorney who’s not only experienced- but experienced in dealing with the legalities and specifics surrounding healthcare. From the start, Wear partnered with Carolyn Buppert of Boulder, Colorado who is a practicing attorney and former NP herself! Of course, these distinctive qualifications allowed her to provide unmatched insight regarding the laws of minors, HIPAA, appropriate medical forms, employment contracts, background checks, and privacy laws.Keep in mind: If you plan to partner with a big player such as a nonprofit, hospital or college, protect yourself. Be sure to have your attorney create a contractual agreement protecting your position and ensuring your advisory role within your business. While you can’t predict each and every obstacle that may cross your path, knowing you have a trusted advisor on your side can give you invaluable peace of mind.
- Marketing Professional– Especially in the beginning, one of the biggest (yet most easily overlooked) elements of owning any successful business is marketing to potential clients. Your doors might be open, but how will anyone know if you don’t spread the word? When it comes to advertising your new clinic, don’t underestimate the power of partnering with a creative professional. Not only can a marketing professional help you craft your logo, set up your social media, and create a valuable email campaign, they can develop an overarching strategy that will help you to stay focused while you break into the local market.
- Malpractice Insurer- Insured by another company for many years without a single claim, Wear was shocked when she learned that her current insurer was unwilling to negotiate a contract between her and her physician. According to Wear, other than dealing with Medicaid, the issue of medical malpractice insurance was the single most frustrating and time-consuming obstacle to getting off the ground. Since you cannot open your doors without coverage, securing medical malpractice insurance is a must. As costs and coverage options can vary by large margins, do shop around. Be on the lookout for an agency that has a history of protecting NPs as well as experience in covering other healthcare professionals.Once you find a physician, they may be, understandably, unwilling to have their malpractice insurance premiums increase due to their involvement in your clinic. An experienced malpractice insurer will work to find the best solution for both entities, act as a consultant, and help simplify the insurance process. “For (the CM&F) entity to understand what we’re doing, to support that endeavor, be a resource, and be able to connect the pieces with the doc,” says Wear, “It was worth the wait.”
- IT Professional- As an NP clinic owner, you will be handling confidential patient records that require a secure network. Hiring an experienced IT professional is imperative when setting up your office, and you will continue to appreciate this professional relationship as you will, undoubtedly, experience future IT issues. Develop this relationship early on to avoid stressful situations along the way.
- Electronic Medical Records- For her small office, Wear chose Practice Fusion’s cloud-based system for her software needs. “I couldn’t have dealt with the new requirements of EMR without them!” she adds. During her set-up phase, there was a significant learning curve; being on a first name basis with her dedicated customer service professional helped her to feel supported while extensive tutorials prepared her to use the system independently. Wear’s preferred software walks her through scheduling patients to taking vitals, but, depending on your requirements, you may wish to consider other alternatives. Research and weigh each EMR’s ability to manage coding, online scheduling, billing, and maintaining ICD-10 code books.
- Mentor– There is no substitute for a personal relationship with someone who has firsthand experience in clinic setup and operations. When opening her first clinic, Wear’s graduate advisor at the University of Colorado was her trusted mentor and someone Wear credits as instrumental in getting her first clinic off the ground. “What I would say to folks is don’t overlook those valuable academic relationships that were formed in grad school.”
When asked what her most precious resource was back when she was starting her own practice, Wear responded: “Surrounding yourself with such great, supportive people that you know you can ask any question. I’ve learned so much, and to develop those relationships, whether it’s in the community or across the country- it’s important. I value my professional relationships and wouldn’t be here without them.”