High Risk, High Reward: 4 Risks Every Dentist Should Know About (And How to Prevent Them)

Oct 28, 2019 | Business Insurance

Stethoscope on prescription clipboard and Doctor working a laptop on desk in hospital, Healthcare and medical concept, vintage color, selective focus

Right behind heart disease and cancer, medical negligence is the leading cause of death in the United States.

In fact, in 2012, there was an average of 1 medical malpractice payout every 43 minutes. The same year, more than $3 billion was spent in those medical malpractice payouts.

In a study that swabbed pediatric doctor’s offices, staphylococcus aureus, which is a bacteria that can cause skin infections, was found in half of all the doctor’s offices.

While starting a medical practice is exciting, it’s also a huge responsibility. If you’re a dentist and you’re thinking of opening your own office, take a look at these potential risks.

Here are 4 risks every dentist should be aware of before they open their own practice.

1. Not Planning Your Finances

If you’re thinking about starting a practice, don’t give notice to your current position anytime soon.

Starting any business requires time and precision. Like any opening, setbacks happen, and it’s possible your opening date will get pushed back.

Don’t put yourself in a position of urgency by leaving your current position too quickly or rushing your new venture.

You’ll need the help of many professionals like a financial advisor, a lawyer, and a real estate agent. Be realistic about all the costs you’ll incur, including construction, technology, and communication.

Undercapitalization is one of the primary reasons for business failure. If you require a lender to start your practice, keep in mind that you might have to ask for more at some point.

Crunch all the numbers more than once. Figure out construction costs, the equipment you’ll need, what services you’ll be offering, marketing costs, how many staff you’ll hire right away, and the many other financial details of things you’ll have to pay for, based on how your dentist’s office is run.

Don’t ask your lender for any more or any less than you need. Too little will sink your ship, and too much can also put you in the danger zone.

Project all your worst and best-case scenarios, financially, at least for the first year.

2. Not Accounting for All the Equipment and Assets You’ll Need

One of the challenges of starting a medical practice is not covering all your basis for every single item that you’ll need to run your business.

Of course, as a current dentist, you probably know what machines and modern tools you’re going to buy. But there are many details that you might not necessarily think of, without the experience or the time.

Investigate all the tools that go beyond the machines of dental care. Think about the AI your office will use, patient portals, telemedicine, software, and everything else from the gloves you’ll carry to how often you’ll get deliveries.

Think about whether or not you could benefit from an automated scheduling process or an after-hours service to take all of your patient phone calls.

If you have the budget for it, look for a revenue cycle management system or billing software that will give you more control over when and how you get paid. 

3. Not Preparing for Cyber Crime

There’s a growing cyber threat to medical practices. Cybercriminals are very knowledgeable and have many resources for pursuing an information breach.

Because the healthcare industry is moving more toward electronic records, many new patient privacy breaches and exposures have occurred.

When records are electronic, they can be easier for people like vendors, consultants, and other third parties to access.

Cyber impacts can seriously harm a medical practice and even result in shutting down systems.

Many people are surprised at how easily a breach happens.

Cybercriminals will send emails with the hopes that an employee with click on a link in the email. That seemingly harmless link causes a computer to install ransomware.

Hackers will even place a voice call to a practice. On that phone call, they’ll use gathered information from social media and other sources to trick employees into revealing even one detail of financial or patient records.

Attacks are becoming more sophisticated and more common. 

All you have to do to avoid an attack is to be vigilant. Put security software and procedures in place and make sure your entire staff is on board. Follow up with additional training, use 2-step verification passwords, and limit internet usage and visited sites.

4. Forgetting to Form the Ultimate Team

Even though you’re opening a medical practice to help people, it’s still a business, and you shouldn’t forget to treat it as such.

If you don’t have the right team in place to help you run it, you’ll only increase your chances of failing.

Build a relationship with your business insurance agent and make sure you’re covered for anything and everything from medical malpractice insurance to worker’s comp.

Have a good lawyer on hand at all times. And hire an experienced office manager to help you run your practice.

No matter how excellent of a dentist or orthopedic surgeon you are, you’ll only get so far without the right staff and professionals on your side.

Starting a Medical Practice Requires Time and Care

If you’re a dentist and you’re thinking about starting a medical practice, you’re probably excited at the thought.

You should be! It’s an exciting venture that could benefit you and your patients for years to come.

Just make sure you avoid the risks by knowing how to prevent them.

Cyber attacks are no joke, and you should prepare for the worst before you open the front doors.

Do you want to learn more about how we can help?

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