Starting a new medical practice is exciting, but the first year of operation is rife with growing pains and some potentially serious pitfalls.

Experienced doctors who have “been there, done that.” Thus, they have keen insights for running a practice and office that can assist others just starting.

Here are some top pointers based on a survey of successful healthcare providers:

Use Tech-Enabled Management/Organizations Tools
The time has long passed since using a paper planner to write things down to organize all tasks and subtasks is over. Powerful project management software tools help keep track of operational details, finances, human resource management, insurance, and more.

A challenge is picking a program to choose. Competition is heavy among healthcare management platform providers. Here is a resource that can help you choose the right system for you: Management Tools

Document Everything
Communicating on key issues face-to-face or by phone is fine, except that it leaves no paper trail. Many doctors prefer using email as much as possible to create an instant record of who said what and when it was said. Also, consider that even a signed contract can be vacated for nonperformance or other issues. Requests for funds are a frequent activity that should be documented. The negotiation of certain terms of business with other actors is yet another factor.

All of these communications must leave behind a hard paper trail, which means documentation. It will save your skin more times than you can imagine.

Anticipate Unexpected Delays
Sometimes a permit you require will get delayed. What if you can’t operate a part of your practice without it? Another example might be health plan network enrollment. It might take longer than you think.

Much of the health care management sector is automated these days. Talking to a real person on the phone can be a dicey proposition. The solution is to operate with a “cushion.” Have a cushion for time, a cushion for money – in short, a contingency plan for things that could wrong or take longer than you expect.

Think Like an Entrepreneur
You are primarily a doctor treating patients, but business is business. A new medical practice is an entrepreneurial start-up, and you’re the entrepreneur at the helm. This means you have to be mindful of the gaps in your knowledge. That is, you may know medicine, but do you know the ins and outs of running a business? Gaining insights from experienced peers is an excellent resource. They can help you with key issues, such as billing, handling electronic medical records, credentialing, insurance — and things you could never have anticipated.