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These questions and answers cover insurance company registration and other aspects of starting out in Private Practice.
I have just been appointed as a Consultant, and I want to enter Private Practice, where do I start?
Firstly, may we offer our congratulations on your appointment.
Secondly, before you can register with an insurance company, you need to acquire some practising rights, so determine at which Private Hospitals you wish to practice.
Some criteria that you wish consider when assessing the Hospital.
- The distance between your home and the Hospital, relevant if you need to make emergency visits
- The number of other Consultants who are from the same specialty as you, how much competition is there, and do you have any advantage over them, or do you have a niche
- Is the hospital in your catchment area, will the GPs and patient know about you and your skills
- What facilities does the Hospital provide for your specialty, do they provide or will you be supplement their facilities with your own
Apply for admission rights, at a minimum of one Hospital, as soon as possible, this may take several weeks to approve and will be the limiting factor on when you can start seeing patients.
I have started gaining admission rights, what else should I be doing now?
Here is a checklist of what else needs to be in place before you start.
- Ensure that you are entered on the GMC Specialist Register for your specialty.
- Obtain MDU cover or equivalent for your private practice.
- Design your support team, including the roles of clinical and financial secretary
- Determine who will fulfill the role of clinical secretary
- Determine who will fulfill the role of managing your expenses
- Determine who will fulfill the role of financial secretary (Billing & Collection)
- Determine how you will market yourself
- Register with the Information Commissioners Office
- Consider Practice Management software.
Why do I need to be entered on the GMC register as a Specialist before I start?
The insurance companies will check your listing on the GMC website when you register with them to ensure that you are qualified to undertake Consultancy in your stated specialty.
They will also check whether you have any warnings or suspensions logged against you.
Why do I need MDU cover or the equivalent for private practice?
As you are now operating independently of the NHS, you are responsible for ensuring that you have sufficient legal cover in the event of a problem. Insurance Companies and Hospitals may insist that this is in place, and may advise you as to how much cover you will require.
You will need to estimate your likely Private Practice income and provide this information to determine the premium. Choose and Book work undertaken in Private practice should be excluded from your estimate, as this is covered elsewhere.
What should I consider when choosing my Private Practice secretary?
Before you interview and appoint a secretary, you need to determine the scope of the role.
In private practice, the following tasks are some of what may need to be covered.
- Booking appointments, although Private hospitals often offer this service at no cost.
- Preparing clinic notes
- Typing clinic, GP, insurance company and patient letters. A number of consultant outsource this activity.
- Sending out letters.
- Retrieving Results
- Receiving and making calls regarding clinical matters.
- Collating and Recording your expenses
- Issuing Invoices. This can be outsourced to a specialist billing company such as HytheHopes.
- Receipting payments received. This can be outsourced to a specialist billing company such as HytheHopes.
- Chasing Outstanding invoice amounts. This is often outsourced to a specialist billing company such as HytheHopes, along with Invoicing and receipting. There are also companies that also specialise in chasing difficult outstanding amounts.
When appointing a secretary, be mindful that he or she may need to be available to patients, GPs and insurance companies during the day.
Some Consultants offer this work to their NHS secretary, but the person may be limited by what they are allowed to do during their time in their NHS role.
Some insurance companies insist on someone being available to answer the phone during normal working hours and have access to relevant information.
Do I need a website?
We would recommend that you have a website for two major reasons.
The first is to advertise yourself and the skills that you possess, this would be part of your marketing strategy. There is also the opportunity for your potential patients to start to get to know you.
The second is to provide information to your patients on your service, the types of conditions that you treat, and your charges.
Where can I get a website built?
We know that there are plenty of companies out there that can build a good quality website, at a reasonable price, and within a reasonable timescale.
But from our perspective, the biggest challenge is finding someone who can design the website, who understands you and your customers, and can deliver a scientific approach to website creation.
When I make purchases for my Private Practice, I find that the prices charged are too high. What can I do?
At HytheHopes, we always look for best value rather than cost.
We consider value as the benefits minus the costs, and to do this we assign an amount to each benefit.
We often find people in all walks of life focus only on costs and make decisions without considering all the factors.
Sometimes it is hard to evaluate the amount for a benefit or cost, such as extra time with your family, but if you can the best deals will be open to you.
If you bought your car on price alone, what car would you be driving?
It is also important to remember that some companies or traders, not all, will add an amount to their charges so that they can appear to be flexible on their prices, so be prepared to negotiate!
I have been advised that I need to register with the Information Commissioners Office. Why is that, and what do I have to do?
You have a legal duty to register with the Information Commissioners Office.
In the NHS, the legalities of the Data Protection Act are overseen by the Trust. In private Practice you are responsible for the Data that is collected about your employees and your patients.
It is very simple to do, log on to the ICO website, look up a few of your colleagues who employ staff and then determine whether a similar listing covers your needs. A registration fee may apply.
Under the Data Protection Act, who can I share patient data with?
The Data Protection Acts are not there to stifle business, they are there to ensure that data collected is used and protected appropriately, and managed according to the purpose for which it was collected.
That means you can share data with your secretary, the insurance companies and other parties, such as Hospitals, Accountants and Billing companies like HytheHopes. But you should only share the data that is absolutely necessary for them to undertake their role. For example, at HytheHopes, we do not get to see clinic letters, as they are not relevant to producing an invoice. We only need the codes for the treatment performed, the history and the outcome for the patient make no difference to how we can do our job.
Technically, you are the Data Owner, and the other parties are the Data Processors. Most of legal requirements around the data apply equally to all parties.
Disclaimer: You are wholly responsible for decisions that you make using information on these pages. HytheHopes cannot be held responsible for the consequences of any decision you make based on information contained within this website.