Opening a medical practice in Australia is a big decision. There’s a lot to consider, especially if you want to set up a general practice, or if you’re planning on expanding beyond a small clinic at some stage. However, it can be incredibly rewarding and lucrative. If you’re ready to take the plunge and create something great, welcome aboard. You’re in for a whole new world of learning.
If you’re looking for information on how to start a medical centre in Australia, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve been helping medical clinics and healthcare specialists get established across the country for years now and have a pretty good idea of what goes into starting a medical clinic. There’s a whole range of things you need to be aware of. You’ll need to make decisions on everything, from choosing the right location and IT solutions to accreditation and staff management. And if you don’t know what you need to do, it can be hard to know what your medical practice set up is missing.
Here are 6 essentials things you need to do when opening a medical practice in Australia:
1. Plan your Business
The best place to start is with a business plan. While you might specialise in healthcare, a medical clinic is still a business and needs to be treated like one. Plan out your unique value proposition (why patients should choose you over others), how you’re going to raise awareness, where your clinic is going to be and what you’re going to do to make your patient’s experience more enjoyable.
You need to have a framework you can build on, one that lays out where you’re going and what you need to do to open a medical practice in Australia. There are a few ways you can do this:
- A full business plan (which we recommend).
- A set of goals and objectives laying out what you want to achieve in 1 month, 6 months, a year, 5 years etc. Make your goals SMART
- Key performance indicators detailing what success will look like for your clinic.
- Anything else that helps you plan and keep track of progress.
The important thing here is to be organised and prepared, so you can gain clarity and direction, achieve goals, and deal with problems as they arise.
2. Ensure your Medical Practice is Future-Proof
One of the worst things that can happen to a clinic is the gradual fade into technological obsolescence. As time goes on, developments will continue to be made in medical practice technology, with faster networks, better client management programs and more intelligent IT systems that help clinics operate at their best.
Failing to upgrade or plan your systems to be upgradeable can mean the end of your clinic in 5 or 10 years. While that may seem like a while, there’s often no chance at resurrection for practices that let themselves slip. Some of the most difficult and time consuming IT fit-outs we’ve done are upgrades for old systems. Transferring data, implementing new processes and dealing with a decade of messy IT systems is almost not worth the time at all. Save yourself the hassle down the line, and plan your IT systems to be scalable and smart. And with the launch of the National Digital Health Strategy, good technology is more important than ever.
If you’re not sure where to start when finding the right technology for your medical practice, we can help you find what you’ll need. Our experts can help you set up, install and manage medical IT systems for your new clinic, as well as plan out the necessary technology purchases. Knowing what technology you need to buy will help you save money in the long run, and stop you ending up with obsolete tech and a problem on your hands.
3. Determine Funding for Your Clinic
Depending on how ambitious you are, opening a medical practice in Australia could cost anywhere between $30,000 and $500,000. It’s the difference between getting a fit-out for an existing clinic and starting completely from scratch, and could completely change how you go about medical practice set up. There are four main options when it comes to funding: self-funding, traditional bank loans, specialised medical practice investors and private investors (e.g. angel investors).
Some banks, such as ANZ have specialised funding and loan options for medical practices and small businesses. Check with your bank of choice for more information, and find out if there’s an option that works for your needs.
4. Understand Australian Medical Practice Laws and Insurance
When it comes to the law, there are no shortcuts. All medical practices in Australia need to be compliant with state and national level laws. While some can be annoying, they’re not just there to protect your customers and patients. They’re to protect your business as well.
Before you start, check that:
- Your building is accredited for medical use.
- Your practice fulfils general practice accreditation requirements (not legally required, but essential for business).
- Your information is supplied to Medicare and you have a Medicare provider number.
- Your business is registered with the ATO and you have an ABN.
You’ll also need to organise insurance for your clinic. A tailored insurance plan is essential for medical clinics, as no two medical practices are the same. When you’re shopping for insurance, as about business insurance, medical indemnity insurance, management liability insurance, medical-legal expenses insurance and cyber liability insurance. As healthcare can be incredibly sensitive, insurance is critical. At the very minimum, you’ll need accident and protection insurance, and well as correct medical indemnity insurance.
5. Hire the Right Staff and Manage Them Properly
When you’re hiring staff for your practice, you need to make sure you’re choosing people that understand your clinic’s values, as well as the importance of accuracy in their work. Above all, a good practice manager is essential for smooth operations. The practice manager you choose should be able to manage digital platforms and customer data, as well as manage patients and other employees. Beyond hiring staff that will fit your business, you’ll need to make sure you’re following Australia’s National Employment Standards, set out in the Fair Work Act 2009. There are also several workplace laws directly related to employees, including:
- Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986
- Age Discrimination Act 2004
- Disability Discrimination Act 1992
- Equal Employment Opportunity Act 1987
- Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act 1999
- Racial Discrimination Act 1975
- Sex Discrimination Act 1984
- Work Health and Safety Act 2011
6. Choose the Right Location for Your Practice
Choosing the right location for your practice is essential. Think about location visibility, the demographic, demand for a medical practice, economic infrastructure and proximity to other health service facilities in the area. It can be useful to place your clinic near allied health professionals, pathologists, pharmacies and hospitals, as you can build relationships and generate new patients. Having a ‘shop-front’ practice can also be useful for visibility. If you’re planning on targeting a specific niche, demographic information can be found on the Australian Bureau of Statistics website.
Now It’s Up to You!
If you’re working out how to open a medical practice in Australia, these are the bare essentials you’ll need to consider. As you’ll find out soon enough, there’s a lot that goes into running a medical practice. The best way to learn is just to get out there and give it a go! With the right foundation, good people helping you out and a solid understanding of how medical clinics operate in Australia, you’ll have everything you’ll need to get started.
7. (Bonus) Get Medical Practice IT Support
Setting up a medical practice can be hard if you’ve never done it before. Having a medical practice support team on-board can help you get things organised faster, get guidance when you need it and ensure everything is working correctly before you launch. If you need assistance setting up a clinic, or you’re looking for medical IT Support, the team at GPsupport can help you. We specialise in establishing and maintaining networks and IT systems for new medical practices and healthcare clinics and can get your clinic up and running within a week. We’ve helped hundreds of clinics and GPs across Australia get started and improve their systems.
We provide hands-on, practical IT support
GPsupport will remove the headaches often associated with setting up a new practice. We have a hands-on, can-do attitude and our team will:
- Take the hassle out of your set-up, to save you precious time and resources.
- Provide dedicated support and solutions tailored for your business.
- Protect your business from accidental or malicious data breaches that could severely impact your business.
- Be your go-to contact for anything IT-related, saving you from having to deal with third-parties and long wait times.
- Ensure your practice is always accreditation-ready and fully compliant with applicable privacy and security regulations.
Contact us today to discuss our New Medical Practice Checklist and how we can support your journey.
Medical IT Support, Simplified
We support our clients by providing end-to-end technology solutions that enhance business efficiencies and improve patient outcomes. Our approach offers security, control, ease, and peace of mind that helps our clients to thrive in an increasingly digital world.