How to Set Up an Orthopedic Surgeon Practice

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Orthopedic surgeons are in high demand these days
Orthopedic surgeons are in high demand these days (Image: © U.S. Air Force)

If there weren't already a medical specialty dedicated to treating musculoskeletal problems, society would have to invent one to keep up with the number of bone-related problems facing patients of all ages these days. From sports injuries on playgrounds and playing fields to knee and hip replacements for active seniors, there will be no shortage of patients for the highly skilled orthopedic surgeon setting up a new practice. But before you can begin mending bones, you'll need to go about the work of establishing an office so you can put all of your training to use.

Things You'll Need

  • License to practice
  • Funding
  • Office space
  • Equipment and furniture
  • Office staff
  • Computer and software

Obtain your certification to practice from the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery after completing your residency and working in an orthopedic practice for two years. You must also have passed both oral and written examinations given by the ABOS to complete the process. Once you have successfully taken these steps and obtained a license to practice medicine in your state, you're ready to move forward.

Decide if you'll be a general orthopedic surgeon or a specialist. Some surgical practices treat all areas of the body or administer all ages and stages of patient care while others are dedicated to special interests such as sports medicine, foot surgery, arthroscopy or geriatric orthopedics. A 2009 industry survey concluded that while 41 percent of all orthopedic surgeons considered themselves generalists, 36 percent said their practice limited the scope of their services to a defined area of the skeletal system or a highly defined audience.

Choose a community in which you intend to put down orthopedic practice roots by finding office space in that neighborhood. Work with a local realtor to save time and energy. Have in mind a budget and a floor plan to eliminate office space that is too expensive, too small or too large for your practice. Remember to take into account large installations required by orthopedists--such as X-ray setups--that occupy big chunks of space when you tally the number of square feet needed for your practice.

Secure financing to pay for the establishment of your orthopedic practice. Try local and commercial banks first if you have done business with one or more financial institutions in the past. If you have no luck, check medical journals and ABOS resources to get recommendations for companies specializing in new practice underwriting. Once you've found a source, have your attorney review terms of repayment before you sign on the dotted line. If you're going to incorporate (regular corporation, sub-chapter S or LLC), take care of that at the same time.

Shop for supplies, equipment and furniture to complete your office build-out once you've secured financing. Your orthopedic practice will require state-of-the-art X-ray equipment, examination tables, EKG units, anesthetics and general first aid supplies, casting materials to repair simple breaks in the office, desks and other office equipment for staff, a full complement of surgical instruments and a supply of crutches, slings, walking casts and other supplies necessary for on-site bone immobilization.

Install a computer system with enough hard drive space to handle patient charts, orthopedic surgery billing software and other aspects of practice management. The right software program will simplify your professional life and give you fast access to everything you need to treat patients. Additionally, your billing software will capture a wide variety of data, from diagnosis codes and arm casts to individual items used during a full-blown orthopedic surgical procedure, thus capturing all financial records while streamlining your dealings with insurance companies.

Meet with an insurance broker to order coverage for your orthopedic practice. You'll need health, dental and life insurance for your staff and their families as part of a benefit package, property insurance to cover replacement costs should pricey equipment and furniture be damaged or destroyed and, most important, malpractice liability insurance to offset potential lawsuits by patients should mishaps occur during or after an orthopedic surgical procedure.

Hire staff. In addition to orthopedic nurse specialists and technicians, having a medical biller on staff to oversee all facets of the insurance web can save you a fortune. A skilled medical biller is trained to follow up on claims, pursue late payments, handle collection issues and oversee bureaucratic hurdles. An experienced orthopedic office manager skilled in areas of billing and insurance filing may also oversee these assignments and prove invaluable in multiple ways.

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