t a glance, opening a new practice seems easy. But in reality, opening a new chiropractic office can be a significant financial challenge. Opening a new office is exactly the same as opening any other kind of business. You will have to rent office space, buy equipment, set up a marketing plan, hire employees, and the list keeps going on, and on... All the above tasks have something in common. They are all expenses. Until your new office gets in operation, you will have to face many expenses which can become very large. You get yourself committed to monthly payments for years to come. This can be very scary because, although you have lots of confidence, you never know exactly how open-minded the community will be for your health services. How many patients will you have the first month? Will your marketing plan be efficient? What is your plan if patients are not coming in as expected to cover your expenses? Then, you may have to face reality, which can include the possibility of bankruptcy.
This is why you need to be very careful with your expenses when opening a new office. There are many ways to delay some big expenses until income is coming in regularly. Today, I want to give you a few ideas to think about that will help you lower your expenses and be even more.
Marketing and Office Location
Marketing and office location should be analyzed together. In order to have new patients, the community has to see you somewhere or somehow. This can be done by renting an office space on a very busy street or commercial building. You may pay more for the rent for your office, but the traffic generated at a prime location can provide you with big savings on marketing. If your new office is hidden somewhere else, you will have to spend much more for marketing to attract new patients. Renting an office in a prime location is not a guarantee that people will stop in to get health care either. You need to have a very good strategy for your marketing and nothing should be done on a "trial and fail" system.
X-ray machines are expensive. For the first few months, you may find a nearby health office that could provide the x-ray service for you. You can negotiate a discount price and still make a little profit to compensate your time. This is a win-win situation for you and the x-ray provider. When your clinic gets to the desired volume of patients and your finances get healthier, then you can buy your own x-ray machine. If you opt for this strategy, then make sure you choose an office location close to your x-ray provider. The closer, the better. This will make it easy for your patients.
Chiropractic Assistant and automated Electronic Health Record system
Until your new office gets in operation, you will have to face many expenses which can become very large.
Employees are, by far, the biggest expense for all businesses, including chiropractic offices. The good news is that new technology can tremendously lower that expense. Those new fully automated electronic health record (EHR) systems will make your work very easy without any assistants at all. Not only are they fully automated and customizable, but they are very, I mean very, easy to use. Also, some of them can be used as a free trial for a long period of time. Let me give you a brief description on how you would operate your office with no paper and no assistant. First, you buy two or three computers and install one at the entrance of the waiting room. Since you may have planned a desk for your future front desk assistant, you may install a computer at this desk also. Then, you install the last computer in your treatment room. You give every new patient a chiropractic health card, enter his chiropractic exams in the EHR system, and set up his treatment and billing. Believe it or not, you are ready to go.
Then, while you treat the patient, you enter the SOAP notes pressing a few buttons on a touchpad.
The Clinic Patient Flow Without Any Assistants
Every morning at the waiting room computer, you will start the waiting room management software. Throughout the day while you are in your treatment room, patients will arrive and swipe their chiropractic card at the waiting room computer. This action will insert the patient in the clinic flow system. From your treatment room you will see how many patients are waiting for treatment and who they are. From your treatment computer, you will release your room and the first patient will be automatically called through speakers to come into the treatment room. This can be done with multiple treatment rooms also. Then, while you treat the patient, you enter the SOAP notes pressing a few buttons on a touchpad. When you are done, you will close the patient file and another miracle will happen.
The billing will be automatically triggered according to what you have done and relative to his or her insurance. Do you hear something in the waiting room? Oh yes... on closing the file of the previous patient, the next patient is being called to come in now. You may take patient payments and quickly enter them in the system from your treatment room. With one mouse click, you may give him his next appointment or multiple appointments if you wish to. Once a week, you click one button to send all the claims to a clearinghouse. Once a week, you click another button and all the insurance payments get automatically posted in each patient file, with no possibility of mistakes.
With new technology and some ideas, it has never been easier to open a new chiropractic office at such low costs. Claude Cote is an expert in EHR systems, insurance billing and chiropractic clinic management for 22 years. He has installed EHR system in 18 countries over 5 continents and nationwide in USA. He is the President and Founder of Platinum System C.R. Corp (www.platinumsystem.com). For comments or questions, please email to