New AAFP Tool Guides FPs Looking to Open a Practice

March 05, 2018 01:32 pm News Staff

Opening a medical practice is a huge endeavor that shouldn't be taken lightly. Family physicians who find themselves at this juncture in their careers have a lot of questions, and the AAFP can help.

[office practice room with equipment and furniture]

The Academy has launched a new resource dubbed "Starting a Practice" that can help curb the jitters and provide the kind of detail physicians need to make the right decisions. The new tool -- available via the "Download Tool" button on the Academy's Starting, Closing, or Selling a Practice webpage -- was designed specifically for family physicians and is offered to AAFP members free of charge. Members will need to sign in to the website to download it.

The workbook introduction clarifies that the financial model it provides aims to help physicians determine startup expenses for a traditional practice, as well as track monthly expenses, income and patient-visit goals. As such, the workbook calculator "is intended as a tool to assist you with those decisions," says the intro.

The resource utilizes worksheets specific to certain tasks. Take a few minutes to review the

  • checklist that helps discern when to take necessary steps;
  • worksheet to track practice startup expenses, which includes the ability to calculate expense totals for each section, as well as overall costs;
  • monthly budget that helps keep track of practice expenses and income, and automatically calculates monthly and year-to-date expenses and income; and
  • the evaluation and management worksheet, which automatically calculates the number of patients a practice needs to see from each of its payers to meet revenue goals.

Development of the tool is directly related to a resolution adopted at the AAFP's 2017 National Conference of Constituency Leaders. Resolution 5009, introduced and discussed during the Reference Committee on Practice Enhancement,(13 page PDF) asked the AAFP to create a startup tool to prepare family physicians who want to launch a private practice.

Academy staff experts took on the directive and developed an interactive workbook with input from the AAFP's Commission on Quality and Practice.  

Readers will notice that this new tool shares a webpage with another resource for family physicians at the other end of the practice spectrum -- those who are looking to close or sell a medical practice.

That resource includes a checklist of what to do and when, guidance for handling patients' medical records and the procedure for notifying patients about a closure or transfer of ownership.