How & Why You Should Start a Solo Podiatry Clinic

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Podiatry is a unique specialty in that almost 50% of podiatry services take place in dedicated podiatry clinics. Single provider operations are abundant in the podiatry space, though multidisciplinary teams are also growing as a popular approach to operating a practice. Because single provider practices are so prevalent in podiatry, it’s important to know what goes into creating and running a business on your own.

Dr. Shylaja Arya of Arya Foot & Ankle spoke with us about the experience of launching her clinic and how she set the business up for continued success. Her Arizona-based podiatry clinic offers a wide range of services such as sports medicine, foot pain care, diabetic foot care, pediatric care and more. Dr. Arya left a large practice to open her clinic, and she hasn’t looked back.

Benefits of Opening a Small Practice vs Working at a Big Practice

Opening a podiatry clinic requires a higher risk tolerance than working at a larger medical practice, but for those who can stomach that, it is well worth it. Dr. Arya found that big practices often do not budget time for providers to establish better connections with patients or provide more individualized care. That was a major impetus for her to strike out on her own.

“I like to do individualized care, but at this huge practice, I was in a time crunch for how long I could spend with the patient. I was basically told how much to communicate with the patient, so I lost out on the art of what I did because I was always listening to what somebody else needed me to do,” said Dr. Arya.

For podiatrists who enjoy more independence in their work and the ability to tackle health problems more creatively, launching a private practice could be your best route to the career you really want. You also gain the flexibility to define your own goals as a provider and a businessperson. Perhaps you want to build your practice into something bigger than where you start. Dr. Arya, however, did not open her clinic with the intent of blossoming into a multi-million dollar podiatry behemoth.

“I just came from a big business, and it felt like that model sometimes compromises patient care. Now, since the goal is to take care of the patient, I would have to consider growing my business if for some reason I can’t keep up with patient volume on my own. However, my goal in starting the business was not really to scale it. It was to grow the business and then be happy and comfortable with where I’m at,” Dr. Arya explained.

As the owner of the podiatry clinic, she is able to define what level of productivity is acceptable for her, within reason. That means that she can take on a lower patient volume in an effort to provide more personalized healthcare without worrying about meeting the rigorous demands of a more growth minded organization. Though, your podiatry clinic may have larger financial ambitions, and that can be balanced with the high quality foot care you give as well.

Tips for New Podiatry Clinics

The success of your podiatry practice depends on more than just perfecting ingrown toenail removals or foot and ankle surgery. Though exceptional patient care is the highest priority, you have to implement sound marketing, practice management and medical billing solutions to sustain your clinic. Some experimentation may be required to find the best tools for you.

Arya Foot & Ankle was founded in February 2020, but they launched in full around May 2020 to better prepare the office for COVID-19. In the early days, Dr. Arya was able to handle the billing, but as more patients started coming through the doors, she decided it was time to outsource her medical billing.

“As soon as the practice started picking up, we saw our AR was starting to go up as well, so adding DrChrono’s RCM service was an easy decision. It was integrated already with our system and everything. After working through some early issues, we got matched up with our team who have been phenomenal,” she said.

Medical billing in particular is a time consuming and often confusing process, so if you find yourself in the position to outsource that work to a team of billing and coding experts, take advantage of that. RCM teams can handle complicated tasks like pre-certifications for orthotics, so that you don’t have to. Additionally, one hurdle new clinics regularly face is insurance credentialing, which can greatly impact your patient volume and revenue.

“I advise new podiatrists to get on the insurance panels. That was kind of the ticket. The more insurances we got credentialed with, the more patients were able to find us in their provider portal,” said Dr. Arya.

Another vital process for small medical practices is building a strong online presence. Effectively marketing your practice will help more patients enjoy the quality care you provide. This can be achieved with the help of third party tools designed to help your practice grow. Dr. Arya found that using a practice growth solution in addition to improving her SEO made her practice easier for patients to find online.

Whatever ambitions you have for your own podiatry clinic, these tips are useful to keep in mind. Though it can be daunting to venture out on your own, it can be worth it for the freedom it lends you. Dr. Arya found as much to be true through her experience.

“Everybody says you can’t start an office from scratch, but you really can. People don’t do it as much anymore because of the costs upfront, but I’ve found it very rewarding because I call the shots.”