What is a polyclinic?
A polyclinic is a larger medical facility than an individual clinic but smaller than a hospital. It is a medical centre where a patient can meet several doctors, get pathological tests and minor procedures done. It is usually set up by a group of physicians (dermatologist, dentist, psychiatrist, gynaecologist, ENT specialist, orthopaedic, paediatrician and ophthalmologist) who run the practice under a single registration. Think of a polyclinic as an upgraded version of a regular medical clinic.
Why are polyclinics a good investment for doctors?
The cost of setting up a polyclinic can be about 70% less than a hospital. Also, patients get quality treatment by paying 20% less than what they would pay in a hospital. With general medicine, medical practitioners can’t cater to all the varied medical ailments of their patients and thus miss out on revenue opportunities. Setting up a polyclinic is, therefore, a good investment decision but requires adequate funding. You and your fellow doctors can pool in some money to start a polyclinic, paying for clinic premises/ rent or working capital. Expenses, equipment and machinery, could put pressure on your clinic’s cash flow. In such a case, external financing with convenient and personalised loans for doctors can be an apt solution.
A polyclinic also increases convenience from the patient’s point of view. Instead of travelling long distances to meet a specialist or maintaining several records for each doctor, he/ she will be able to visit a polyclinic for complete medical solutions. This would increase patient footfall and further boost your returns.
Additional read: Electronic health records - Invest to improve
How to set up a polyclinic
Step 1: Hire a practice manager
Whether you have the business acumen or not, it helps to have a practice manager for your polyclinic who understands the working of your clinic and is able to come up with solutions to everyday problems so that you and other doctors can focus on administering treatment. Having a practice manager for your polyclinic will help you understand the working of your clinic and come up with solutions to everyday problems, regardless of you have the business acumen or not. This also helps you and other doctors to focus on administering treatments. After all, patient care must be your number one priority.
Step 2: Pick the right location
Consider starting a polyclinic in a populated residential area to maximise footfall. You should also try and pick a location close to the market and is easily accessible by all modes of transport. This will ensure that prospective patients choose you over other clinics. In addition, if you can provide parking space, you will further attract more customers. The better equipped your polyclinic is, the easier it will be for patients to navigate to.
Step 3: Arrange for finances
Expanding from a clinic to a polyclinic is a huge task and is one that requires ample funds. Be it a larger waiting room, construction of examination rooms and consultation cabins, areas for outpatient procedures and billing; you need a spacious layout to run your polyclinic. You must also have sufficient funds to pay experienced support staff. Moreover, as and when you add specialities to your polyclinic, you will have to infuse your business with a surge of funds to buy the necessary equipment and hire additional resources.
Loans for doctors with a high loan amount can help you set up your polyclinic. If you want a collateral-free loan, you could take a business loan for doctors, which gives up to Rs. 55 lakh, while if you are willing to risk your assets, you could opt for a loan against property for doctors and get funds up to Rs. 5 crore.
Step 4: Create an entire ecosystem
Your goal must be to create a one-stop medical centre for all your patient’s needs. So, for example, if a child has a bad fall, he/ she can come into your polyclinic, have his/ her dislocated bone treated while a paediatric doctor checks for signs of a concussion and/ or internal bleeding. An X-ray service, pharmacy and canteen will help make the process smoother, as the child won’t have to visit multiple medical centres to get treated.
Step 5: Hire the right support staff
From those in the billing department and nurses to receptionists and assistants handling copious paperwork, you must hire the right support staff to ensure that your polyclinic is functioning smoothly and efficiently. You will also have to create an HR, administrative, legal and marketing department. Investing in medical billing software is also a good idea, as is outsourcing taxes or recruitment to a third party. You can also consider adding a legal department that will protect your polyclinic if a patient takes legal action, or even simpler, take a professional indemnity insurance policy to protect your practice from unforeseen legal actions and risks.
Additional read: How can doctors make their practice more visible?
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