Purchasing or Acquiring a Medical or Healthcare Practice?

To be the best clinician you can be, it is critical that you have the business aspects of providing healthcare in order. In the ever-changing and competitive Australian medical and allied health market, how does your “practice fitness” fare? Take the time to invest in building a strong and considered business and financial plan.

Irrespective of whether you are seeking to start as a solo practitioner or buy into an existing practice (as part of establishing a group practice), the legal and financial complexities of running a medical and/or allied health practice are significant.

Medical (whether general or specialist) and allied health practices are often small to medium business enterprises and, as such, require well-executed professional strategic and operational management. Designing and developing a suitable and well-structured practice is not only dependent upon the healthcare provider’s unique vision of patient care, but also requires carefully navigating all the legal, financial, taxation, federal and government regulatory risks involved.

Creating the most suitable and beneficial business structure at the outset allows you to maximise the financial success of your profitable venture. Generally, the types of structures available include:-

  • sole trader;
  • trust, including a hybrid trust, fixed unit trust or a discretionary trust;
  • company;
  • partnership;
  • associateship; and
  • assistantship.

These won’t all be suitable for owning, operating and developing your practice.

Purchasing a property with the expectation that you can set up a medical practice without careful consideration first may expose you to substantial risk and loss.

When deciding on a location, it is important to consider visibility. Key issues include the demographic profile of the area, supply and demand for medical care, economic and infrastructure development, and the co-location of other health service facilities. To build a strong reputation as a holistic healthcare provider, choose a location within your referral network, and focus on establishing an easily accessible digital presence.

Optimise your business efficiency and deliver high quality patient-centric experiences by employing the right practice manager. Your practice manager will be the backbone of your practice and investing in the right person will relieve a lot of the early (and some ongoing) pressures in setting up and running a clinic. A strong practice manager is multidisciplinary, covering aspects of business leadership, project management, information technology, marketing, finance, and HR.

Equally important is employing the right diverse staff with a mixture of skills, knowledge and competencies that will have a major influence on the quality of service provided to patients in your practice. You will need to build the right team to achieve your practice’s objectives. A cornerstone of these teams is developing relationships that lead to trust and understanding of various roles, skills and capabilities. Building a positive working culture centred around collaboration and accurate output will ensure you have a solid team on board to deliver quality patient care when it counts.

Entering a professional co-ownership arrangement could have a lasting impact on individual financial profiles, reputations, day-to-day operational decisions, and the legal liability of the practice. Buying into an existing medical or allied health practice may seem like the more affordable option, however, there are advantages to building your own practice from the ground up.

To ensure a smooth business acquisition or transition occurs, the relevant commercial background information and documentation is required as part of negotiating a successful purchase or merger. To start with, such documentation may include:-

  • evidence of current Australian medical, clinical or healthcare accreditation;
  • bank documents regarding financial position and capability;
  • valuations, land, leasing or other property related documentation;
  • copies of any established trusts;
  • licence and leasing arrangements (including pathology);
  • employment agreements and/or contracts;
  • any other relevant commercial documents.

To ensure the overall success of your venture, it is prudent that you first discuss your ideas and proposals with advisers. At Burke Lawyers, we provide expert legal advice specifically tailored to assist you in purchasing, merging or buying into a medical or healthcare practice.

Our holistic approach will ensure you are set up for success covering all the relevant aspects of commercial, business, property, trusts and employment. Contact our medical lawyers today on +61 3 9822 8588 or email us here.

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