Small Business Loans for Medical Office
Many healthcare providers find that working in a corporate environment chafes. They do not control their schedule, and healthcare driven by profit motives does not always produce the best care. The thought of opening a private practice may hold some appeal, especially if you can form a partnership and spread the risks.
The costs involved in setting up a practice vary, and after you have opened, you will have to cover ongoing expenses such as rent, payroll, and malpractice insurance. These ongoing expenses can be more than $6,000 a month.
By 2020, the healthcare industry will reach $5.5 billion value, driven by an aging population and more health-conscious consumers. The sector does present opportunities, especially in boutique and specialty care. Over 23% of medical practices in the United States consist of 2-5 doctors, indicating that private medical practices still thrive. If you have opened your practice and are ready to grow, see how easy it is to apply online and get the capital you need.
What Do I Need to Qualify?
Below is a list of the requirements to get approved for business funding with our most basic program. There may be additional factors that are considered, meeting these three requirements though gives you a very high chance of having your application approved.
- At Least 2 Months in Business
- 500 Min. Credit Score
- $8,000 Min. Monthly Revenue
Types of Business Loans Available
Opening a private medical practice is a significant endeavor. While your primary drive may be to control your patient load or be free of a corporation’s demands on your time and able to serve patients better, to make money and operate a successful practice, you must learn cash flow management.
Borrowing supports growth, pays for needed machinery before you receive provider reimbursements, and can keep your practice running smoothly through cash flow issues.
1. Working Capital Loan
The term “working capital” refers to the money available to pay for your daily expenses. It’s the difference between your current assets and current liabilities on your balance sheet. A negative balance indicates that you would be unable to pay all your bills if they came due, and most experts advise a balance of current assets that are two times your current liabilities. However, maintaining adequate working capital can be a struggle for a new medical practice.
A working capital loan provides a cushion to help you pay front desk staff, nurses, or rent during a cash flow slump. Available in terms of a year to three years, you only have to have been in business for two months to apply. Shield Funding lends to borrowers with a credit score above 650 and minimum monthly revenues of $10,000. You can borrow from $10,000 to $1 million at rates of 9% to 45%.
If cash flow management has proved a challenge in running your business, look into a working capital loan.
2. Short Term Business Loan
A short term business loan is ideal if you need to cover a short term need, particularly one with a predictable cost. You can borrow for a period of six months to a year and pay for an X-Ray machine, alleviate any worries about paying rent while waiting for payment or fund a waiting room remodel.
With a short term loan, the lender has less time to make a profit, which is why many banks and traditional lenders do not offer short term loans. Alternative lenders fill this market need. Rates for short term loans range from 9% to 45% to allow them to still make a profit and to cover their risk. Shield offers loans to borrowers with credit scores as low as 650, and you must have been in operation for a year.
3. Bad Credit Business Loan
A doctor graduates medical school with an average of $196,520 in student loan debt. If you and your partners owe this amount or more, it could make it challenging to qualify for funding. Banks and lenders look at a debt service coverage ratio when making a lending decision. Simply put, it is the amount of your income which must go to cover debt payments each month. Even if you have a great credit score, if the bank considers this ratio too high, they will not lend to you.
A bad credit business loan empowers borrowers to access capital if they cannot qualify for funding from a traditional lender. Alternative lenders are willing to work with borrowers who have credit scores as low as 500 whose businesses have been open for two months or more. Interest rates range from 12% to 45%, depending on your credit score and time in business, and your practice must generate a minimum of $8,000 in monthly revenues.
If your student loan debt disqualifies you from borrowing at a bank, reach out to an alternative lender like Shield Funding.
4. Equipment Financing
Depending on your specialty, you may need to purchase several large machines to support your practice. An X-Ray machine, defibrillator and resuscitation equipment, computers, an ECG unit, once you take inventory, you could pay between $70,000 to $100,000 to fully outfit your medical practice, with $10,000 to $15,000 of that for equipment. An equipment financing loan could help you cover these costs.
Equipment financing loans fund the purchase of equipment, which then serves as the loan’s collateral. Because the lender has recourse to seize the equipment if you default, they charge a lower interest rate. However, the loan’s funds can only be used to buy equipment, though you can sometimes roll shipping costs into the total loan.
To apply, you will need information on the equipment’s age, condition, and possible resell value. For large-ticket items, the lender may require an independent appraisal. This will delay your time to funding. Many borrowers need capital sooner and prefer not to run the risk of losing important equipment if they should default.
Growth Tips for a Private Medical Practice
Even if you began your career in medicine to help others, when you open a private practice, you are moving beyond being a doctor and into the world of business. Business owners must strategize and plan for growth so that success is not an accident but an anticipated outcome. If you are thinking about your practice’s future, read through these growth tips to find those best suited to your business.
Target a Large, Local Employer
Large, local employers house many potential patients in their offices. If you accept their insurance or have existing patients drawn from the company, targeting your marketing and outreach efforts at them can yield results.
Outside of exam time, talk with your current patients from the company about decision-makers, particularly those in Human Resources. Reach out to them and offer to present talks to their employees. You can also participate in health fairs, offering advice or mini-consultations, and host “lunch and learn’s.” Giving away your time and expertise builds goodwill and gets you in front of their employees.
When targeting a large employer, focus your discussions on how they and their employees will benefit. Maybe the free ergonomic assessments you offer will reduce pain and, thus, absenteeism. If you have drop-in hours and are close to their office, it could help employees who have a quick issue they want to address and who can then return to work. Being of service to a large, local company can bring new patients through your doors.
Market your Medical Practice
While you might have done a big marketing push when you first opened, you should plan on regular marketing and promotions to keep yourself on the radar of current and potential patients.
If you have collected email addresses, start a newsletter with timely and helpful health advice. The advice can relate to your practice’s specialty, such as podiatry, or be more generic. Consider sending out promotional postcards offering free or reduced flu shots, combination wellness and sports physicals, and other deals timed to the season. Use postcards to re-engage past clients, with check-up reminders or “we miss you” messages.
In addition to marketing your practice to patients, you should also market to doctors who might potentially refer patients. When a doctor refers someone to your practice, send a quick “thank you” note. Identify gaps in the rosters and staffing of local hospitals and clinics that your practice could fill, such as a need for a neurologist or other specialist, and introduce yourself and your practice to the referring doctors in that clinic.
While social media can be an effective form of advertising, you should always be careful about liability related to giving online advice. Include disclaimers on blog posts and social media posts. Dedicating a portion of your marketing budget to targeted Facebook and Google ads will reach possible patients. Both social media and search engine platforms allow you to create audiences to target keywords, a geographic range, age, and more. Giving away a free checkup or other smaller service in the ad can induce the targeted audience to click through to your website.
Successful small business owners set aside money for a marketing plan and dedicate some time each week to getting the word out there about their business.
Set up a Great Website
Once an online searcher clicks through to your website, they should be redirected to a welcoming, professional, and informative site. Think of all the basic questions someone might have about your practice and seek to answer them.
Include a brief overview of your practice and biographies for all physicians who work out of your office. Make sure that biographies include all specialties, any advanced certifications, and ongoing education related to your doctor’s specialties. List your office and clinic hours, particularly if you accept after-hours appointments or offer in-home consultations. Always include a list of insurance providers that you take.
Your website can do more than draw in new patients; it can also streamline booking appointments and reminders, thus creating cost efficiencies. Invest in a patient portal where patients can book online and view test results. The right software, integrated with your website, automates friendly reminders and texts, which can prevent no-shows.
Investing in a professional, well-designed website will pay off in the long-run.
Work on Gaining Media Exposure
Free, positive media exposure is priceless and can boost your reputation and profile. Work on becoming an expert and resource to local media.
Journalists, producers, editors, and writers are always looking for sources. Introduce yourself by email, letter, or a phone call, and offer to provide quotes or be willing to participate in an on-air interview. Do not use this time to plug your business, or you will not be called upon again. Instead, use it to build your reputation as an expert in your field.
It can take time and persistence to build these relationships. Make yourself available, and be prepared to step in for a last-minute cancellation. Often, stepping in to help out in a pinch will be your foot in the door and kick off a good relationship.
If you are good at generating ideas, feel free to send pitches related to calendar topics. Ideas could be diabetes awareness month, advice on treating bee stings in the summer, or anything that could have a timely hook. Editors and producers are always looking for new ideas, but be professional and courteous when approaching them. Value their time the way you wish your patients valued yours.
Manage Your Reputation
The patient-doctor relationship is based on trust. You should always keep a close eye on your reputation and the reputation of other doctors in your practice.
Monitor online reviews on Yelp, Google, and doctor review sites. Pay attention to any complaints and address them quickly. Complaints may not always relate to your service, but to your practice. Perhaps someone did not receive an appointment reminder phone call, or the wait time on hold was too long. Are you consistently receiving complaints about the front desk staff?
Do not let problems build until they significantly harm your business; always work to resolve them quickly. Reach out to any disgruntled patients personally, listen to their concerns, and both take action and let them know that you have taken action.
Solicit feedback from satisfied patients, but do so ethically. Do not ever offer to pay for a review or discount your services. You can also take surveys in the office, but disclose upfront if you plan on using any information in your marketing materials.
Referrals speak to the reputation you have built with your patients and in the community. Ask patients to recommend you to friends and family. Give out free pens and refrigerator magnets to current patients so that your information is readily available.
Form relationships with other physicians, particularly primary care doctors, and request referrals. You can also reach out to overlapping specialty physician practices. Make sure that referrals are a two-way street, and that you send business their way when appropriate. Building a referral network takes more than being a good doctor; it requires giving back.
Engaging with your community projects a positive and charitable image of your practice. It establishes your business as a member of the area, one that gives back and supports the community. This can be as simple as sponsoring a Little League team or more involved volunteering.
Whenever possible, tie your engagement to a health-related event. Participate in a cancer walk or a fundraising event for a health condition that your practice addresses. Sponsor a booth, hand out water, or give out freebies. Keep the selling at a minimum and focus on building relationships and inspiring trust in the participants. When new patients book their first appointment, ask them how they heard of you so that you can track the event’s success.
If you have been volunteering at the same events for a few years, expand your reach. Look for other health-related fundraising opportunities in your area. While you should not abandon the charities you usually support, you may have already interacted with all potential patients at those events.
Know your Data
In medical school, you likely learned how to analyze a study’s results and extract data. To run a successful practice, turn your attention to the numbers your business generates.
How many patients do you need to see each month to break even? How many will generate a profit? Do some insurance providers pay out an average of two weeks sooner? That could lead you to market more to their plan participants. Patient and procedure volumes, the value of referral relationships, and average front desk salaries; getting comfortable with this data will help your practice grow.
Knowing which procedures have a larger profit margin, and who your most valuable patients are can inform marketing decisions and shift your practice. Targeting members of an insurance plan that pays out faster can help with cash flow.
There are many software programs that will generate and analyze this data for you, or you can hire an expert. But getting comfortable with this information can propel your business forward.
Host an Open House
If you have only been open a few months, just expanded your practice, or remodeled, try hosting an open house. Invite the public, colleagues, referral coordinators, and referral physicians. Now is your chance to show off the business you have been building.
Offer refreshments and door prizes as an incentive. Use the opportunity to build connections while soft-selling your services and practice. Let the space speak for itself, and do not skimp on comfortable furniture for the waiting room and other decorations.
Invest in Technology
Technology can help you remain compliant with HIPPA and other regulations, generate cost efficiencies, and keep your business running smoothly.
You will need to purchase an Electronic Medical Record system in which to record patient data. The right software can help you make sure all visits are coded correctly for reimbursement, flag potential errors, and ensure consistent patient care. Scheduling software keeps your calendar appropriately booked, while collections and payment software reduces the time and money spent following up on past-due bills.
Software which integrates with one another can be a time-saving measure that reduces the need for office staff. It also better serves patients by ensuring that your practice keeps accurate records. An investment in technology could pay off quickly.
There are pros and cons to specializing. If you focus your practice on a common condition, you can develop a reputation as to “go-to” doctor in town for that condition. But then you must be sure that there are enough patients with this illness to support your practice. Generalizing, on the other hand, gives you a broader base of patients to draw from but can make it harder to market your practice.
Whatever you decide, pay attention to the demographics in your neighborhood. If the population is aging, a geriatric practice could be successful. If more young families are moving in, think about how you could serve their needs. Stay aware of local needs and shift your practice to meet demand. When thinking like a businessperson, you might have to shift from only taking on patients and cases that interest you to broaden your practice.
Also, consider how you could compete with the drop-in clinics, urgent care, and in-store clinics. These have become increasingly popular; between 2011 and 2016, they increased 38%. Patients love their convenience and low-cost services. Look at the number of retail clinics in your area. If there are several, and more are opening, the demand is there. Brainstorm ways to compete. You could leave slots open in your schedule for walk-in’s, offer evening and weekend appointments, and advertise drop-in services.
The Final Word on Business Loans for a Medical Practice
How and when you grow your practice will depend upon many factors. If you have partners, it is wise to have everyone on the same page before planning an expansion. Enlist the help of experts to write a business plan and identify growth opportunities if you are feeling stuck. And find the right lender to partner with you on your path to success.
The right lender understands your business and its funding needs. They have experience lending in your industry and can set up a repayment plan that works with your cash flow.