Having an exit strategy

In this episode of PodMD, Rooms With Style Director Caroline Chaplin will be discussing the topic of new doctors starting out in private practice, inlcuding how they would be best advised when being offered a position to set up with an associate, having your own branding, planning an exit strategy and more.

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  • Transcript
    Please note this is a machine generated transcription and may contain some errors.
    *As always, all in this PODMD podcast is intended for health professionals and the comments are of a general nature. Information given is not intended as specific medical advice pertaining to any given patient. If you have a clinical issue with one of your patients please seek appropriate advice from a colleague with expertise in the area.

    Today in the PodMD studio we have RWS Director Caroline Chaplin.

    Caroline has worked for being the director of RWS for 15 years. And during that time provided extensive advice and assistance for both new and existing practices.

    *We do hope you enjoy this podcast but please remember that the advice here is of a general nature and is not intended as specific advice about private practices.*

    Caroline, thanks for coming into the Pod MD studio today.

    Caroline: Delighted to chat with you today

    Question 1
    Today, we’re talking about new doctors starting out in private practice and how they would be best advised when being offered a position to set up with an associate. So how would that pan out?

    Caroline: The first thing I would say to young doctors as they’re starting out in private practice, is that it can be extremely tempting to jump in with somebody else. Obviously, one huge positive of that is that your fees can be so much lower. Um, you don’t have the costs of the practice set up rooms, um, and so forth. So, it can be a really cost-effective way to set up. However, what I would say to you is tread with caution. So, if you go into it with your eyes wide open, and you think right from the onset, how will I leave this situation? If it’s not working, then it can be a really great move. It can help you with costs and so forth as said, when you’re first starting out and it can also help you pave the way. The other benefit can be, um, that sometimes it can show you how you want things to happen.

    But conversely, also how you don’t want things to happen in your private practice so you gain the experience, but an exit plan is absolutely vital. What you will find is doctors will say things to you, such as I’m going to retire soon. I’m going to hand over my patients to you. All of these things are often promised and not only, um, not delivered, but sometimes it can go pear shaped when you actually do try to, um, get a handover and things as well. I’ve had some doctors say to me that, uh, the more senior doctors will promise them, your time will come. Your time will come. Well, how long do you want to wait until you get grip in the market yourself as yourself, not marketing necessarily under another brand.

    Question 2
    So Caroline, on that point of branding, should doctors have their own branding when they go into an associate ship arrangement?

    Caroline: Yes. When doctors go into an associateship arrangement, I believe they should have their own branding. So that once again, it is easier to move on. Should the situation not work or they simply just want to be out on their own within the next few years. If you’ve got your own branding, that’s easier. Sometimes what people do is they have to adopt the branding of the practice because they’re under the practice name. Um, so what we would then do is create some branding that has a similar feel, or is not a disconnect to that branding so that when they move away, they can continue and it’s not such a change or, um, it doesn’t look completely different to their referring market.

    Typically, what I would advise is that you might be under their brand as I said their company name, but you would have your own branding on the letterhead too. So, you adopt their brand almost like an umbrella brand. Now that’s not always possible depending on what the agreement says and so forth, but aim to have your own branding.

    Question 3
    Caroline, what else do doctors have to be mindful of before they would enter into an associateship with other doctors.

    Caroline: Something else to be extremely mindful of is any agreement that you sign. If you are leaving the arrangement, will your patients be able to come with you and will you have access to your referral data? We see this time and time again, where doctors come to us and want RWS to get them started. And they’re all my starting back at scratch. Point one, step one, wherever they have nothing, they have no referral data. And they’re starting again, try not to let this happen to you and be careful what you’re signing. Get your lawyer involved to check that you’re not signing your life away with the situation. I do understand that sometimes politics gets in the way and it’s hard to negotiate a lease with someone who’s kind of, for all intents and purposes, seems like they’re doing you a favour, but that one is a point where you really need to be careful that you’ve got your data.

    Question 4
    Caroline, do you sometimes have situations where doctors leave on not very good terms if you like.

    Caroline: Yes. This happens all the time. And on the point of the data, sometimes even if in your legal agreement, it says that you are entitled to your referral data. You’re entitled to your patient data. It doesn’t necessarily mean that people will allow you access. Once you decide your pulling the pin and moving on, um, this doesn’t always happen. I mean, sometimes this happens very nicely and people do the right thing, but I’m giving you a worst case scenario. So make sure through your time at the practice, you always have up-to-date data in relation to who’s been referring and what patients and so forth.

    Also, don’t forget that you will have an obligation to let people know. And it’s actually an AHPRA requirement to let people know that you have moved AHPRA stipulates, that you should have about three occasions that you let people know that you’ve moved from the practice. So this is another reason why you would need that data, um, upon leaving a practice as well.

    Question 5
    So, Caroline, is there any other things that we need to know or advice that you would give in relation to whether or not to start up with an existing doctor or an associate practice?

    Caroline: Well, of course there’s many other things that need to be considered as well. So for example, how much are you paying and what are you getting for the service? One of the things that I hear a lot from doctors is what was promised to me from an admin point of view, isn’t happening. So just make sure you cross your T’s and you dot your I’s in relation to what you are receiving. If you need some help, then come to an advisor like RWS to find out what it is you should be receiving from a practice point of view. Because of course, if you’re new, you might not know what it is, um, that you need to, you know, you don’t know what you, you need to know sort of thing. Um, so that would be important to, to find out.

    Question 6
    Caroline, are there any final things that you think doctors should be very aware of?

    Caroline: Yes. Well, today we’ve mostly talked about how to go into the arrangement thinking how will I get out of it if it’s not working? So something else to think about is how will I transition if I, if I leave. So we’ve talked about today, the branding, the branding, if it’s similar, will create a nice, easy transition for you. If you’ve got the data that will also help to create a nice, easy transition for you. So you won’t be starting at square one. They’re the two main things that I would be advising you to think carefully about before you get into a situation where you are setting up with another doctor.

    Caroline, thanks for your information today in relation to accepting an associateship position a more senior doctor, particularly in relation to how to have an exit strategy, should it not work.

    Caroline: Thank you

*As always, all in this PODMD podcast is intended for health professionals and the comments are of a general nature. Information given is not intended as specific medical advice pertaining to any given patient. If you have a clinical issue with one of your patients please seek appropriate advice from a colleague with expertise in the area.