How many hours a week do you work?
Each family doctor, meaning FOP doctor, can choose his own work schedule, depending on the needs of his patients. It mainly depends on the number of declarations. If the doctor has a small number of declarations, he can work fewer hours. The doctor who collected the maximum number of declarations will need to work more hours per week.
I now work 6 hours a day from Monday to Friday when I type my declarations. I work in two shifts: on certain days you can come in the morning or in the evening. On Saturday or Sunday, reception can be by appointment. In the future I will increase the schedule, but for now it is enough to provide good medical care to my patients.
Is there a replacement in case of illness or vacation?
A doctor who will work alone must have such a function. If a group of doctors works, then they agree on the exchange accordingly. If the doctor works alone, then he needs to conclude a contract with another doctor, and in case of vacation or illness, this doctor will replace you. I have such an opportunity, that is, there is a doctor who can provide insurance.
How do you promote your medical center?
Of course, in the light of recent events, the promotion of the center is mainly done on social networks. We have our pages on Facebook and Instagram, we are active there. This is very interesting, this was not the case in the state clinic. This is a new round of my personal activity, which gives a certain result.
Patients learn about the studio based on the recommendation of those patients I already have and the recommendation of my colleagues and acquaintances. We closely cooperate with colleagues from both public and private institutions.
Please tell us about the competition in this area
If we talk about the city of Cherkasy, there is no negative competition here. There are state medical institutions, private centers are actively opening (both large clinics and FOP doctors), which are beginning to collect declarations. So far, there have been no cases of clear unfair competitive issues.
I think that if the doctor is qualified, confident in his abilities and knows his business, he will succeed.
Do you give patients their own contact number?
Each medical center decides whether or not to provide such information. It is now a popular practice for call center operators to contact patients without revealing the doctor’s personal number. I think this is a good practice.
If the clinic is small and the doctor treats his patients as friends, another option is also possible. I am also considering this possibility. But still, it is better to separate personal life and work in this case.
Every medical clinic must have a call center or an administrator who will answer the phone calls. It is now a necessary component of any studio, medical center. Patients should have access during working hours to information about the operation of the medical facility, doctors’ appointments, and certain administrative issues. And it is the manager’s task to ensure this access.
The whistle is a type of musical instrument that produces sound by blowing air through a pipe. Whistles can be used for various purposes, such as calling domesticated animals or signaling. Some whistlers use special techniques to produce different sounds. The whistler is known for its haunting, plaintive sound.
Of course, you need to have an email address where patients can send certain documents, results of laboratory and instrumental examinations. Also, many doctors have messengers on their phones, where similar information is sent.
Are the conditions for receiving a patient by a family doctor in a state clinic different from a private center?
Unlike the polyclinic, I have the opportunity to devote more time to patients. So, for example, I have up to half an hour allocated to a primary patient to determine his main questions, establish a preliminary diagnosis and draw up an examination and treatment plan.
It also differs in that private clinics do not have such a large appointment to see a doctor. There were situations when in state clinics it was possible not to get to the family doctor, if we are talking about a scheduled appointment, and not an urgent one. I will not allow such situations in my medical studio. We make appointments for patients as soon as possible.
My patients, if necessary, can take tests on the same day when they are needed, unlike public clinics, where appointments for laboratory tests can take several days or even weeks. This is a significant advantage for the patient.
The work of the clinic is designed to minimize the number of queues. Now there are no queues at all for existing declarations. A person comes at a time convenient for him and receives a consultation. In my medical studio, there are no such situations “I just have to ask”, because the organization of the doctor’s appointment is already set up. A patient booked for a specific time will be admitted at the same time, and not like in the state clinic, when you have to miss several people and get to the appointment an hour later than was scheduled.
How much did your salary increase?
In the state polyclinic, the salary of a family doctor varies, now it has increased significantly. For example, at my last place of work, my salary was from UAH 13,000 to UAH 16,000. Now, for a month of work and 700 declarations, I already have an income of UAH 26,000. Of course, there are costs, but over time the number of declarations will increase and the income will increase. Certain structures, it can be found in free access, can clearly calculate your salary depending on the number of declarations. This can be easily calculated based on the capitation rate. That is, the doctor can roughly estimate what income he will have with a certain set of declarations. It is quite individual. A doctor can have both 800 and 1800 declarations. Accordingly, the salary will be different.
The doctor can calculate it. A business plan is important, so to speak. FOP is not only a person, but also an entrepreneur, even though he is also a doctor. If you dare to take this step, you need to calculate everything. A doctor who will work according to declarations from the National Health Service must calculate what his ultimate goal and profit are. I’m halfway there now, it’s not the end goal yet.
What are the risks of starting your own business?
The first risk is not to invest in start-up capital. This is the main thing that you need to plan correctly, what you need to spend money on at the licensing stage. That is, you need to buy furniture and equipment. Few people say that couches, tables, cabinets, chairs, etc. are needed. These seem like obvious things, but they are quite expensive. And this also needs to be understood. There is a risk that there may not be enough money, this needs to be thought through.
The second main risk, if we are talking about licensing and cooperation with NSZU, is that these structures may not sign contracts or licenses due to some inconsistencies, material and technical equipment or insufficient qualifications, in accordance with the requirements. This is a very important risk, because at this stage the work can stop and not move forward, while everything must be approved.
The third risk is the lack of advertising, patients themselves, declarations to the doctor. It is necessary to know about this doctor and go to him. That is, the risk in the absence of patients and, accordingly, profit.
What starting capital is required?
Starting capital is individual for each doctor. It depends on the scale of his practice that is acceptable and expedient for him. For me, the starting capital was roughly 100-120 thousand UAH in order to start my own medical studio.
What should doctors who want to open their own business know?
In my opinion, you must be a qualified medical professional. No matter what budget you have, how cool the equipment, if you doubt your abilities or lack competence, you should not start your own medical practice. It will be short-sighted, unpromising. Perhaps you should work on your healing and communication skills, so that eventually everything will work out.
The estimate is important, because without start-up capital it is difficult to start, nothing will arise in an empty place. Expensive material and technical equipment is required for licensing and signing a contract with NSZU.
You also need to have the skills of personnel selection
if you want to work professionally and provide quality medical services. A high qualification of the doctor is necessary, because without this, patients will quickly understand that the doctor is not competent enough and their own business will not develop.
You need to know the regulatory and legal framework: familiarize yourself with the basics of taxation, know medical orders, all the rules of inclusivity regarding the premises in which you will work. All these things are extremely important and you need to familiarize yourself with them and study them well before starting work.
It is necessary to find a model of your practice, how you will work, what will be the style. Still, you need to recruit good staff that you will trust and that will not let you down. These are the basic requirements for starting your own business.
What myths do patients have about the work of family doctors in private medical centers?
The main myth among patients is that everything is paid and expensive in private structures. But when you start talking about cooperation with the National Health Service, about free admission and certain laboratory tests, referrals to other doctors, prescriptions for available drugs, patients wonder: “And what is the benefit to you?”. Sometimes we explain certain organizational points, sometimes we say: “That’s how we are unique” (laughs). Everyone thinks that services are free only in state polyclinics, and services are always paid and expensive in private clinics.
The second myth is that the doctor will not answer, there will be no communication, it will be difficult to get to him. He will not deal with the patient as professionally as in a state clinic. I think it is worth thinking the other way around: the doctor has built his business and is interested in the quality of providing his own medical services so that the patient is satisfied and recommends him.
What myths do doctors have about private family practice?
The main myth is that it is extremely difficult. But if you understand all the processes, starting from the state registration of the FOP, ending with the work schedule of your own medical practice, you can do it all step by step. This is all time-consuming, but not as difficult as it may seem at the very beginning of the journey.
The second myth is that it is very expensive. As I once thought, you need to spend millions. In fact, if you structure the expenses, it will be clear that you don’t need as much money as it might seem at first.
The third myth, or rather fear, is that nothing may come of it.
These fears can be reinforced externally by unscrupulous colleagues or friends who may give unnecessary recommendations. If you have already dared and have a clear idea of how you will work, everything will work out. People will understand and see your concept – and these fears will disappear.
My main recommendation is not to be afraid, if you are confident in your abilities, then do this work.