Outfitting your Office Part I – What do you need?

Exam RoomYou finally found a space to lease or buy. Perhaps your vision includes brand-new exam tables, the latest in EKGs, that fancy computer system and that beautiful oak desk you’ve had your eye on for months. But before you run out and spend that money, let’s take a look at your budget.

Some of us opened offices with a nice loan but allows us to buy everything we want. However I think most of us opened offices on a shoestring. I know I did. In my case it didn’t make sense to take at huge loans to start a practice. So when it came time to outfit my office I knew I needed to spend my money wisely. The tips I’m about to share with you is just one way that you can find supplies for your office.  I’m sure others will have other suggestions. Your job is to take all of the suggestions and do what works for you.

Stop for a moment though. Before you start looking for medical equipment and supplies, office equipment, computer systems and the like, you need to make a list of what it is you think you’re going to need. You might want to do this on the computer because I guarantee that this list will be revised dozens of times. Some of the supply houses will most certainly be willing to supply you with a list. Here is one supply list I found (sorry I don’t remember where) that you can download in an Excel format. (This list will download to your computer when you click on the link).

Here’s what I did. I walked through the rooms of the office and started jotting down what I needed in each area. How are patients and staff going to move through the office and what will you need to do your work? For example: in the reception area we needed phones, fax machine, copier/printer/scanner (yep, we got an all in one), chairs, mat for chair, paper, pens, computer, shelves, files, etc. Next: exam rooms…when through the same process – what do I need in these rooms, and so forth.

Here is the first list I made. I didn’t use it as we didn’t end up in that space. My final list, for our office turned out to be much different, but it will give you an idea of my first draft.

If you are still working, think about keeping a notebook in your pocket and as you go through your day, jot down what you are using/needing on a daily basis.

In Part II, I’ll go into where I started spending money. Stay tuned.

(c) Barbara C. Phillips, NP

Comments 7

  1. Thank you so much for this list. I do have a pretty detailed list when I worked at TakeCare, and I did the ordering for the medical and office supplies. I can also use Biowaste, for red bags, cardboard containers, and sharp pickups. I am just trying to get the big stuff in there first, like reception furniture, printer table for all in one machine, wall shelving, utility carts that are multi purpose for storage, lab supplies and drawing, etc. Where do you keep your mini fridge? I do not have any built ins at all. No plummed in water. No counter tops or cupboards.

    So I am going to buy a portable sink, that plugs in, heats the water, and transfers by pump, clean water from a 5 gallon tank up through a hose, and through the faucet, to wash your hands, back down the “drain” into the “dirty” 5 gallon container. Then once a week, you just roll it out, and put fresh water in. This way a sink can be in the exam room which is so important to me, and patients.

    Question? Do you have a place where you order prescription pads? Express scripts? I filled out all the information, and need to fax everything. Thank you. Carla

  2. Post

    Hi Carla,

    I ordered scripts through http://www.MedicalArtsPress.com . However, the smallest amount I could order will probably last me 3 years. If you are using Amazing Charts, you will find that you will not need many scripts. I saw a place recently where I could order a much smaller amount, I’ll see if I can locate that link. I know one of our local printers also prints of prescription pads for several offices, you might check with printers in Portland…I’m sure you’ll find someone local.

    Our mini fridge was in our central “work area”, but we are not using it that often since I no longer carry immunizations, and it’s now in the “staff room/kitchen”. I needed to make more space for my super MA to perform her magic.

    I only have one 2 exam rooms without plumbing and one of those is being used for acupuncture, the other is not yet open as an exam room. I’ll try and post pictures soon.

    Oh yes…re waste. Our local garbage service also does medical waste. They supply the boxes and red bags for pickup.


  3. Hi Barbara,

    I always seem to get so much info from you. Now if I can just get the time to get this practice together. I am using Amazing Charts, so I think I can just print off some copies but I did just order some fairly easy from a website called: FileRx.com so I think that will last me a while. I would love to see your pictures of your exam rooms. I agree, my practice is being opened on a shoe string. I think though it will be about 8,000.00 when all is said and done. But that will be over a period of 4 mos, so not too bad. If you have the best hints on credentialing other than filling out those reams of paper, I would love to hear it.

    I am going to be doing housecalls, and got a call from an RN who has opened her own Foster care home, and she would like me to be the pcp for one of her patients with mobility issues. She has a partial femur fx due to osteoporosis. I think I will take her on. She has Medicare, but I can wait to bill for services provided for up to a year before getting credentialed. Do you know if now we only need the NPI number or do we need to fill out the Medicare lengthy packet again? Thanks, Carla

  4. I am testing, I did submit a comment. I found an rx site called FileRx.com. I am still getting my practice furnished. I will get pictures when I get some pictures in there. Thanks for all the feedback.

  5. I found a great “new office checklist” for supplies in Medical economics, clip and copy section, however, it would not let me just copy the url address. So I am going to try to just copy the entire list here: I apologize if it is so long.

    Waiting room
    Chairs, 12
    End tables, 2
    Magazine racks, 2
    Books for kids and adults
    Pictures/art work
    Plants (discretionary)
    Table lamps, 2
    Patient education rack
    Computer with patient-ed
    Computer table
    Workstation chair
    Front office
    Chairs, 4
    fax machine
    Wastebaskets, 2
    Calculators, 2
    Electric pencil sharpener
    Clipboards, 7
    Appointment book
    Petty cash box
    Locked change box
    Fire extinguisher
    Desktop computers, 2
    Paper towels, 1 case
    Towel dispenser
    Soap, 1 gallon
    Soap dispenser
    Toilet paper, 1 case
    Employee lounge
    Chairs, 4
    Microwave oven
    Coffee maker
    Soft drinks, 1 case
    Water cooler
    Coat rack
    Doctor’s office
    Desk with locking drawer
    Executive desk chair
    Side chairs, 2
    Desk lamp
    File cabinet (four drawers)
    Dictation equipment
    Pictures (discretionary)
    Plants (discretionary)
    Coat hook for door
    Desktop computer
    Exam/tx rooms
    Desktop computer central to
    3 exam rooms
    Exam tables, 3
    Rolling chair/stools, 3
    Side chairs, 3
    Chart holders, 3
    Cabinets, 3
    Waste receptacles (general), 3
    Waste receptacles
    (infectious), 3
    Coat hook and clothes
    hanger, 3
    Mayo stands, 3
    Otoscope, 3
    Ophthalmoscope, 3
    Gooseneck lamp, 3
    sphygmomanometer, 3
    sphygmomanometer, 3
    Adult scale
    Pediatric scale
    X-ray view box, 3
    Bedpans, 6
    Procedure room
    Vision screener
    Holter monitor
    Flexible sigmoidoscope/supplies
    Fetal Doppler
    Adult Doppler
    Portable suction unit
    Portable O2 unit
    Waste disposal container
    Waste disposal container
    Coat rack for door
    X-ray view box
    Exam table
    Pediatric table
    ED resuscitation kit
    First aid kit
    Crash cart
    Ear lavage equipment
    Rolling stool
    Side chair
    1/3 cut file folders, 3 cases
    File folder labels
    (plain white) 4 cases
    “Payment at time of Service”
    sign, 2
    Phone message pads, 2
    Post-it Notes (large and
    small), 2 packs
    Correction fluid, 4 containers
    Cellophane tape, 1 case
    (12 per case)
    Staplers, 4
    Staples, 12 boxes
    Paper clips
    (large and small), 12 boxes
    Copier paper, 5 reams
    Rolodex , 2
    Scissors, 2
    Glue sticks, 3
    Desk calendars, 3
    Pens (black ink), 2 dozen
    Pencils (#2), 2 dozen
    Erasers, 4
    Medical dictionary
    ICD-9-CM manual
    CPT manual
    Vertical chart holders
    for desks, 2
    Scratch/note pads, 12
    Standard lined note pads, 12
    Large manila envelopes, 24
    Large rubber bands, 1 case
    Return-address stamp
    Organizers for inside desks, 3
    In and out bins, 6
    Time cards/clock
    (or computerized version)
    Stacking bins, 8.5 x 11 in.,
    for insurance desk, 10
    Letterhead stationery, 2 boxes
    Letterhead envelopes, 2 boxes
    Business cards, 2 boxes
    New-office checklist
    Checklist (continued)
    Thank-you notes, 2 boxes
    HIPAA forms, 2 pads
    OSHA compliance package,
    2 pads
    New patient information forms,
    2 pads
    New patient medical history
    forms, 3 pads
    Prescription pads, 12
    Practice opening
    announcements, 12 pads
    Medical records
    Medical chart files, 5 cases
    Chart holders, 3
    Chart cabinet, six shelves,
    3-4 ft. wide
    Section dividers, 5 boxes
    Alphabetical name and year
    tabs, 5 boxes
    Injections and medications
    Medicine cups, 1,000
    Insulin syringes, 2 boxes
    (100 per box)
    Tuberculin syringes, 2 boxes
    1 cc syringes, 2 boxes
    2 cc syringes, 2 boxes
    5 cc syringes, 2 boxes
    10 cc syringes, 2 boxes
    27 gauge needles, 2 boxes
    25 gauge needles, 2 boxes
    22 gauge needles, 2 boxes
    20 gauge needles, 2 boxes
    18 gauge needles, 2 boxes
    Ampules or vials, 2 cases
    Sterile water,
    12 500-ml bottles
    Sterile saline for injection,
    6 500-ml bottles
    Sterile saline for irrigation,
    6 250-ml bottles
    Alcohol wipes, 6 boxes
    Bandages, 6 boxes
    Antiseptic, 6 bottles
    Clamps, 3
    Curettes, 3
    Forceps, 3
    Mosquitoes, 3
    Hemostats, 3
    Tissue forceps, 3
    Sutures, 1 box (12 per box)
    Needle holders, 3
    Probes, 3
    Retractors, 3
    Scalpels, 3
    Tissue scissors, 3
    Brushes for wounds, 3
    Physical examination
    Exam table paper, 5 cases
    Towels, 1 case
    Examination gowns, 5 cases
    Drapes, 5 cases
    Facial tissues, 36 boxes
    Lubricants, 3 tubes
    Flashlight, 3
    Rubber gloves, 10 boxes
    Specimen containers: urine,
    stool, blood, 2 cases
    Tape measure
    Tuning fork, 2
    Tongue blades, 2 boxes
    Percussion hammer
    Speculum, 5
    Vital signs
    Oral thermometer, 2
    Axillary thermometer
    Rectal thermometer
    Stethoscope, 2
    Alcohol wipes, 4 boxes
    (200 per box)
    Specialty exam and
    Eye or ear
    Snellen eye chart
    Color plates
    Sterile eyedropper, 2
    Sterile bulb syringe, 2
    Cotton balls, 1 case
    Basins, 5
    Water thermometer
    Bandaging, 3 boxes
    Roller bandages, 1 case
    Elastic bandages, 1 case
    Slings, 6
    Clips, 6
    Applications for heat or cold,
    1 case
    Ice bag, 3
    Water bag, 2
    Washcloths, 12
    Heating pad, 2
    Protective covering, 2
    Anatomical models/charts,
    1 set
    Betadine, 3 16-oz bottles
    Hydrogen peroxide,
    3 16-oz bottles
    Sterile 4×4 gauze, 1 case
    Sterile dressings, 1 box
    Sterile nonstick dressings,
    1 case
    Adhesive tape, 6 rolls
    Disposable bags, 6 boxes
    Sterile ointment, 3 tubes
    Transfer forceps, 2
    Minor surgery tray, 2
    Sponges, 4 sleeves
    Laryngeal mirror
    Nasal dropper, 2
    Bulb syringe, 2
    Emesis basin, 6
    Nasal packing, 1 box
    Electrocardiograph paper,
    2 packs
    Electrode gel, 1 tube
    ECG mounts, 2
    ECG leads and sensors,
    2 boxes
    Hemoccult tests, 1 box
    Culture and smear materials,
    1 box
    Urinary and male
    Urine specimen containers,
    2 cases
    Reagent strips, 1 bottle
    Midstream urine containers,
    2 cases
    Slides, 2 boxes
    Culture medium plates, 2
    Sterile applicators, 1 box
    Sterile swabs, 1 box
    Clean catch instructions
    Female reproductive
    Vaginal speculum, 2 boxes
    Applicator, 1 box
    Slides, 2 boxes
    Pap fixative
    KOH solution
    Perineal pads, 1 box
    Uterine dressing forceps
    Diaphragm fitting rings

  6. We are just at the start of this, can anyone give us a cost estimate for equipment, and for a year of supplies? Thank you,

  7. Post

    That’s difficult to do as there are so many variables, including:
    – What kind of practice are you starting? Family practice is going to be different from urgent care or from a mobile practice or a wound care practice.
    – What kinds of procedures will you be doing? Injections? Casting? Sutures?
    – How many patients do you anticipate you’ll see per day and how many days will you be open?

    Basically, you’ll need to make a list of what you think you will need and do some projections. Shop around to get ideas of cost as they also will vary.

    You’ll likely base it on what you are currently doing and what you anticipate you’ll be doing in your new practice. Many often find that their projections were higher than they anticipated.

    Good luck!

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