Top 5 Considerations for Opening a New Weight Loss Practice

– According to Carol Clark, MSN, RN

Opening a new weight loss practice or expanding your services to include weight loss is a big decision. Incorporating these five considerations as you create your action plan will increase your likelihood of success and enjoyment.

While the pitfalls and challenges of starting a new weight loss practice are similar, there is no one way to build one new weight loss practice or add weight loss services to your current practice. Although there are best practices, your practice will be uniquely your own.

However, as smart, action-oriented, busy healthcare professionals, it can be easy to simply adopt a model of care similar to what you see being offered locally or online. No one wants to reinvent the wheel for efficiency unless you have to. As a motivated practitioner ready to help your patients live healthier lives, these five important considerations can be overlooked. If this happens, you run the risk of creating a practice that is not as profitable or enjoyable as you had hoped.

Top 5 areas of focus

Starting a new endeavor is an exciting time, full of promise and potential. You are committed to success and ready to move forward. Like anything new, there will be hurdles, obstacles, and challenges along the way. Being crystal clear about these five areas will help you navigate with confidence.

  1. Your vision: No matter what size or type of practice you own or create, your vision guides every decision you make. Take the time to really think it over and write it down. Your vision is also meant to inspire your employees and your patients. It must be ambitious, strategic and actionable. It consists of the following:
    • What are you doing. This includes the services, products and support you provide.
    • How do you do it? This includes your model of care (brick and mortar, telehealth/online, insurance-based, cash, or combined). It also includes how you come across in your office and online—your marketing, all communications, your office design/flow, your day-to-day coordinated operations, and much more. What is your care delivery system like? What kind of customers does it attract? And what is the overall reputation you want to be known for?
    • Why are you doing this? Why do you choose to set up your practice? Just like your patients trying to lose weight, your why is what will carry you through any setbacks. It’s always better to follow your why and your vision than chasing other things like income. While critical to success, if you follow your vision and your why, revenue and profitability will follow.

Embrace your unique vision and enthusiastically share it with your team so they understand exactly what they’re working on and how they contribute to bringing the business vision to life.

  1. Your team: a high performance team wants to work for a high performing practice. Think about your organizational chart and which positions are important to fill first. Craft your job postings to attract your ideal candidates. Once hired, set them up for success. Understand what motivates them and take an interest in their short- and long-term goals. Give them the training they need, let them know how they contribute to the practice’s success, have them measure specific key performance indicators related to their position, help them excel, and make sure communication is as transparent as possible.
  2. Your ideal customer/marketAt first, many weight loss professionals have a general view of who they want to serve, which focuses on characteristics such as age, type of insurance, how much weight they want to lose, and income level. However, over time, working with your clients tends to develop into a niche market. Knowing who you want to serve will guide all aspects your marketing as well as how you can adjust the provision of services. So the sooner you can define your ideal patient and what they want most, the more focused your efforts will be.
  3. Your revenue and service delivery modelOnce you’ve defined your vision, you’ve decided on your preferred care delivery model. Now is the time to think about how big or small you want your practice to be and the factors that contribute to your profitability (revenue streams and related costs). This will guide your decisions as you set up your EMR, billing system, budget, and metrics for timely measurement of your progress and profitability.
  4. Your budget, schedule, plan, execution and trackingThis consideration is how you will take what you have decided and make it happen, and by when? How do you plan to ensure these critical tasks are completed and who should help you? It helps to have an overall action plan that outlines in chronological order what needs to be done in these areas. And you don’t want to forget the activities needed to set up your team, products and services, marketing, care delivery system, finance, and systems for measuring your key performance indicators. When you take the time to consider everything that needs to be done ahead of time, it will help you set priorities and determine a completion schedule that is realistic and trackable. This will make the whole process more enjoyable and focus on creating the weight loss practice you want and create the transformation your patients want most.

Bottom line, opening a new weight loss practice or adding weight loss services to your practice is exciting work. There are many resources available to you. It’s important to address these five considerations before identifying the necessary resources so that your unique practice is designed with your goals and the goals of your ideal patients in mind.

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