Can you use your home for your clinic? Sure, you can! But do you really want to?
Back when I was a kid, our family doctor (the only one in our small town) would come to the house if we were too sick to see him at the office. For routine visits, we’d go see him at his clinic, which took up the first floor of his house.
Both Dr. Fuchs and his wife worked in the clinic. She was a trained nurse, handling nursing, reception, billing, and more. And Dr. Fuchs himself… did the doctoring!
The waiting room, always full, operated on a first come – first serve. You walked in, took your seat, and waited…
There was an exam room, a small reception/office, and a bathroom. And that was it.
It was a simple setup! And while it worked for us, I don’t know how it worked for Mr. & Mrs. Fuchs. But I suspect that they worked a lot, because people showed up or called at all times, day or night. (I know my family did.)
But that was years ago. Today, things are different.
Most of us don’t want to sit and wait for an appointment. We want to be seen and get out. Who has the time to wait around?
And most people expect to find the usual clinical environment. They may not feel comfortable walking into someone’s house.
I know I wouldn’t be twice if I didn’t know the clinic or found out about it from a trusted friend. But then again, some may not mind a bit.
But regardless, putting a medical clinic in your home may not be the best route to go. And here are the three biggest reasons why.
# 1 Privacy
When your place of work is your home, you’re giving up your privacy. Not only do family and friends know where to find you, but now a bunch of other people know where to find you too… anytime.
And it’s not just patients. It’s everyone else visiting a business routinely: salespeople, inspectors, insurance representatives, job seekers, etc. While this may not bother you, some may find it disruptive and bothersome.
So what if you just use your home address as your business address?
Well, there are consequences too. Your home address will be online for years to come. Think about all the online places listing your business address: NPI, insurance companies, licensing board, business registrations, medical product companies…and the list goes on.
Do you really want your home address public when there are inexpensive alternatives? Today, you can “rent an address.” Do an online search for “virtual office,” and you’ll see the host of options available to you.
The bottom line, if you use your home address as your business address or outright work from your home, you’re giving up privacy.
# 2 Safety
It is, in my opinion, the biggest reason not to start a clinic in your home: your safety, the safety of your family, and the safety of your patients.
It only takes one angry patient or family member.
When you’re in a regular clinic, chances are there are other patients in the waiting area. Their presence alone can deflate a potentially volatile situation.
However, if you’re working from home, you may choose to see people one at a time, no one else may be around…
Sure, there is no guarantee of 100% safety anywhere. Regardless if you’re practicing in an office located in a medical complex, or from your home.
However, I feel there is something to be said about having people around you, or at the very least close to you. And again, this may or may not be the case in your home.
# 3 Image
The third reason you may not want to start a clinic in your home is the image you’ll be projecting.
Based on today’s standards, medical practices are located in medical complexes or close to them. When you practice from your home, you may give up some of the built-in authority the traditional medical practice conveys.
Also, think about the other providers. Will they feel comfortable referring to you? Will they take you seriously and work with you?
If they don’t, will your patients suffer because of it?
While these are the main reasons to think about, there are few more worthwhile considering.
Let me give you a quick rundown:
- What about the zoning laws in your community? Have you checked with your city? Are you allowed to run a business from your home?
- If you live in a community with a homeowner’s association, what do the bylaws say?
- What about getting credentialed with insurance companies? Have you checked with the companies you want to work with to see if they might have an issue with credentialing a home-based clinic?
- What about separate entrance and bathroom for patients? Are you prepared to do a potentially extensive remodel on your property, and will it be worth it?
- What about parking? Is there enough room to accommodate patients?
As tempting as starting a clinic in your home may be, it may not be the best route to go.
Ultimately it is an individual decision. And while it may not be right for one provider, it may work fine for another.
But whatever you decide, be sure to consider your safety, the safety of your patients, and the safety of your family.
Join the conversation by leaving a comment or your question below.
By Johanna Hofmann, MBA, LAc; regular contributor to the NPBusiness blog.