#PNN_Doctor examining a computer screen

Starting and maintaining a private practice isn’t easy. Coding, billing, documentation and state regulations can be complicated, but being accurate is essential, according to Kathleen Blake, MD, MPH, the AMA’s vice president of health care quality and a cardiologist who worked in private practice for many years.

In addition to considerable clinical skills and acumen, physicians in private practice also need management and marketing know-how to build successful and sustainable practices, she said.

“These aren’t skills they teach you in most medical schools,” she said, “but they are essential for anyone in private practice or even considering starting a private practice. According to AMA research, about 44% of physicians are in private practice, and they have needs that are not just associated with delivering medical care.

“You hear this all the time. The best referral is an existing patient asking, ‘Would you see my family members?’” she said, but private practice physicians need more than just referrals to build their patient panels. They also need to create an efficient management structure, establish a positive patient experience, and build a personal online brand, she added.

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