What would happen to your practice if you suffered an extended illness or a temporary — or permanent — disability? If you are a solo physician, you cannot let your practice grind to a halt while you recover.
You can’t simply put your patients’ appointments on hold or cancel them; very quickly, your patients will seem to “evaporate into thin air” as they find other doctors to treat them, warn attorneys Michael Stern and TMA General Counsel Rocky Wilcox in Closing or Selling Your Medical Practice.
“A physician who suffers a short-term disability may find the patient population that he or she has taken such great pains to cultivate to be significantly diminished upon the return to practice,” the authors say. A physician who needs to sell the practice due to a permanent disability (or a family who needs to sell in the event of the physician’s death), may find its value has dissipated within a very short time.
Solo physicians should take three important steps to make their practice ready to go on immediate life support in event of an extended illness or disability:
- Enter into a coverage agreement with one or more physicians in your community. Perhaps you can arrange a reciprocal agreement whereby you will step in to care for each other’s patients if needed.
- Designate your spouse, next of kin, or other trusted person to have quick access to the practice’s business accounts and financial records. Employees will still need to be paid, utilities and other expenses will continue, your family may need the income. As a business, your practice needs to keep functioning.
- Similarly, designate someone to supervise employees and manage the practice in your absence. This person needs access to passwords and key business records.
Closing or Selling Your Medical Practice is available in the TMA Education Center.
Published Jan. 10, 2013
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