business plan for doctors

The ultimate business plan roadmap for doctors in private practice

Why not start your business plan with a clear vision for your practice? Recently, more specialist doctors have started shaking up the traditional business planning schedule. We will show you how you can start with your brand, design the DNA of your private practice and add commodities and logistics later.
business plan for doctors

The ultimate business plan roadmap for doctors in private practice

Kris Borgraeve - Co-founder Digital Practice

Kris Borgraeve

November 18, 2021

The simple checklist to start writing your business plan

a business plan for doctors with ambition

When we help doctors communicate online and attract (more) patients to their private practice, we always include a business strategy process. The checklist partly covers general best practices to create an effective business plan for doctors, and some of the items are relevant beyond your business plan. The answers to these questions often become the DNA of the practice, and I have seen specialists and surgeons create their business success in no time, using a simple checklist like this one:

  • Your why: Taking the time to reinspect the main reason why you have chosen to create a private or independent clinic is a success factor in itself. It reconnects you with your purpose. Jot down a few bullet points to summarise why you decided to create your practice. Go back to it from time to time to reconnect with your passion.
  • Your goals: Whether this step involves closing your eyes and visualising, or sitting in front of a whiteboard with your eyes wide open. As long as you create clarity about your goals, 12 months and 3 or 5 years from today. What type of patients do you spend most of your time with? What does your team look like? How are your status and reputation?
  • Timeline: If you are starting out or upscaling your practice, create a plan with timeframes for each step. If you underestimate the time to move to the next step, it may cost you money or you may lose momentum and team members who don’t have the patience to wait until it all comes together.
  • Budget: Do some research on the various costs to run your practice. Consult with a reliable financial expert to crunch the numbers. Also research the real costs that are involved in building a brand, creating a strong profile and activating a systemised GP-referral strategy.
  • Market research: Did you know you could get access to the online traffic volumes of your competitors in any major capital city for any specialty? Check who is most visible for which type of treatment or procedure. Research the educational content that is most googled for and work with an expert who knows your local market to create realistic traffic and lead projections.
  • Avatars: Envision the type of patient you want to see in your future and ideal practice. Build your avatar with as much detail as possible, from age brackets to preferred suburbs, including income ranges, and places where your ideal patient spends time.
  • Focus treatments or services: Many specialist doctors still believe they need to communicate about every little procedure they do. Leading specialists understand the power of subspecialising. Would you rather be one of the 340 orthopaedic surgeons that do hip, elbow, knee, shoulder and wrist procedures? Or one out of 3 who is doing elbow surgery for tennis players?
  • Hospital associations: Think ahead and get informed about accreditation options for the hospitals in your catchment area. Read the fine print. Speak to colleagues in another specialty area about their experience with the hospital you are approaching.

With that checklist in mind, you will be best off if you find experts who have a clear focus on the mechanics of an independent or private health practice.

Brand, Market Research and other business planning secrets

business plan essentials for doctors

Your practice as a brand is a reality, no matter how big or small your efforts to turn it into a brand. Let me put this in perspective.

Even if you believe you are totally not the type of person to create a brand, you still are creating one. The following fictional scenario has often been a wake-up call in the workshops we run with specialist doctors and it will change your perspective on this concept of ‘brand creation for doctors’.

Doctor Jack Jackson (If that is your real name I apologise for not finding a better fictional name) runs a bariatric surgery practice in a private hospital. His rooms have adhesive letters in white plastic stating ‘Dr Jack Jackson – Weight Loss Surgeon’ and that’s it. Inside, there is no signage, only a small consultation room with family photos and a computer. Dr Jackson does not have a website and lives from the referral stream that was started in the 1990s when he started as the only weight loss surgeon in town.
The brand experience with Dr Jackson is still there. He is invisible online. And although Jack is kind and caring, has an excellent reputation, many patients don’t remember who their surgeon was 5 years ago when they had this excellent experience getting a sleeve gastrectomy. And googling won’t help them because even if they remember his name sounded like a famous pop singer…they won’t find him online, not in a thousand years.
Dr Ella Ellarson (again if that is your name, not to be confused with the fictional doctor I just made up) across town, gets up to 5 new patient leads per day off her professional website. A contact form invites patients to share a few details and when Dr Ellarson’s receptionist gets the input, they call the patient and send them a digital info pack including a video. In that video, Dr Ellarson answers the main FAQs, builds rapport and earns the trust of at least 4 of those 5 new patient leads instantly.

Do your research. Google your main treatments, procedures or the associated conditions and add the town or city where you work. Take a look at the top 5 specialists and ask yourself if the brand experience is building trust or not.

One of the little-known business secrets for doctors in private practice is the power of digital branding and content marketing. Doctors who have significant resources for patients who are still making up their minds are building a strategic advantage over doctors without a presence.

Business plan for doctors

Where to find help when starting out in private practice?

business advice for doctors

As you just start out in private practice, you will be well aware of the advantages of going private. There are many experts who can help you and a popular solution consists of one-stop-shop businesses who have a variety of experts on board, with particular expertise in the area of private practice success and growth.

What you are looking for is an integrated combination of expertise to help you with:

  • Financial setup
  • Administration and practice management
  • Credentialing and hospital accreditations
  • Real estate
  • Medical technology
  • Recruitment and HR

From experience, we know that adding marketing to the mix generally results in outsourcing back to specialist agencies such as Digital Practice. It may work well in transparent partnerships with other providers though, particularly if you have an existing business relationship with a provider in one of the above areas.

At Digital Practice, our focus is on generating income. It is the second most important layer of your business plan, right behind the clinical or surgical skills. The way we attract patient leads for your private practice is based on building online visibility, GP referral marketing and advanced market research into the information needs of your average patients. With the exponential rise of online and digital, this is rapidly becoming the first pillar of any substantial business plan for doctors, not a commodity that is added to the plan long after the above areas have been covered.

To share a remarkable story with you: Many of our top customers have actually started the process in the right order, creating an outline for their future brand first, and then adding the management, location and recruiting steps to their timeline. After all, the location, the team you hire and the management style you introduce, are all going to be part of what your patient experiences as your brand.

3 Thriving private practice business brands

private practice business models

The Woom is a Women’s Health brand with a unique brand and a unique business model. It offers the specialised expertise of accredited fertility specialists and gynaecologists, in conjunction with women’s health GPs, dietitians, psychologists and physiotherapists. The clear brand promise is supported by Google-optimised content per main business avenue on attractive, informative content pages. As a result, visibility is predictable and supports the business growth objectives for this ambitious and fresh expert brand in women’s health.

Advance Surgical has a boutique profile around lead surgeon Dr Jon Armstrong. The personal touch, the personability of the team and the transparency around fees and processes offer immediate guidance to the patient when they visit the Advance Surgical website. A variety of forms is available to get in touch, one of which allows patients to verify if they are a candidate for the weight loss surgery types that are offered.

Wexford Gastro has a brand positioning around the catchment area of the Wexford Building which serves as an anchor point for people in the surrounding suburbs. The brand focuses on facilitating patients who are preparing for their gastroenterology procedure, with clear information on what to expect. A fresh, simple and inviting ‘about section’ allows patients to get to know their specialist before they go and see them in a first consultation.

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Start growing today!

business planning for doctors

A business plan for doctors starts with clarity around the DNA of your private practice as a business. Speak to our team about the options for your practice, creating a brand that is futureproofed, supporting your business growth and supporting your personal goals and vision for your work as a specialist doctor. I look forward to meeting you to discuss your vision!
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