You’ve decided to move your medical practice out of state – or perhaps just moving to a different location within your city or state. Whether you’ve moved previously or this is the first time you’ve moved as a healthcare provider, there are some things you must know before you even pick up the phone to call a real estate or relocation specialist. If from out of state your most important task is ensuring that you are qualified to practice medicine in the state you are moving. Upon receiving your new license, make a task checklist, like the one shown below.
Always consult with an attorney experienced in medical practice law pertaining to any state in which you intend to relocate – website information can and does change and may not always be accurately reflected online. You will also need legal advice when closing your existing practice along your state’s guidelines. This could involve ending a lease or selling your building, as well as complying with any legal procedures for terminating current patient and employee relationships. Follow these medical practice relocation checklist for smooth transition.
Location, Location, Location
It’s a real estate truism: location is everything, especially for a medical practice. If selling your building, you’ll need to work with a broker experienced in commercial real estate who understands the local market. If buying, using a real estate professional experienced in medical practice relocation can make the purchase go more smoothly. You’ll want to be sure that any new site meets regulatory guidelines for patient safety and other compliance issues, such as the safe use of radiation or limited landlord access (if you lease office space.) A good agent will also have access to population demographics, transportation availability and other necessary information for choosing the best location for your practice.
Find a Relocation Company Experienced in Moving Medical Practices
This is not the area to try to save some money – an experienced practice relocation company is well worth its price for saving you stress, expenses and time by safely packing, transporting and setting up your expensive equipment and office furnishings. You want a company whose experienced technicians are able to meet federal and state guidelines for dissembling and transporting sensitive medical equipment.
Other items, such as exam tables, work stations, IT equipment, filing and billing systems and other essential goods will also need to be carefully packed up and transported. The company should be able to help minimize downtime once at your new location by testing and recommissioning equipment to get you up and running as soon as possible.
Notify Payers and Professional Organizations
According to their website, the Georgia Medical Board strongly advises that you do not accept an offer to practice medicine in Georgia until your license has been approved and issued. The physician licensing processing time normally takes between six to eight weeks, so it’s important to allow for that in making moving plans. Contact them online or (phone) for the latest updated information.
Note that as of 2010 Georgia does not issue locum tenens or other temporary or limited licenses: applicants must meet requirements for permanent licensure for anyone wishing to practice medicine in Georgia.
As a rule, unless the physician is retiring, there is generally no need to notify the Composite Medical Board of a planned move for those already living within the state.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) must be notified, however, to arrange for transport or transfer of any controlled substances when a medical office closes.
Notify All Patients in Advanced
If your move spells the end of current patient-provider relationships, be aware that there are legal penalties for “patient abandonment”- the term for patients left without having the time or ability to find a suitable physician replacement for continuity of care which is a patient’s right and a provider’s duty. Be sure to allow plenty of time to notify patients to avoid complaints resulting in an investigation by the Medical Composite Board.
It is appropriate to refer them to another equally-qualified physician, referral service or their health plan. Using certified mail, as well as putting notices in the office and local newspapers to notify patients and others, is an effective ways of giving notice.
Timeline Checklist Guide:
12 weeks before the move do the following:
- Contact a medical practice relocation company.
- Notify payers, including Blue Cross, Medicare, Medicaid and others
- Notify patients as far in advance as possible, especially if leaving the area for a distant location, to give them time to find a new provider without interruptions in care.
- Let your staff know about the move as soon as you know you will be moving and ensure that all of their exit paperwork is in order. Helping them find new employment by providing referrals would be very much appreciated..
8 weeks before the move notify:
- Telephone and Internet service providers
- Medical associations
- Change your address for magazine and other subscriptions
- Order printed materials, such as letterhead, appointment cards, brochures and prescription pads
4 weeks before moving, notify the following:
- Your medical and business suppliers and services as well as equipment providers
- Outside services, such as maintenance and related contractors
- Biohazard removal contractors
- Bankers, CPAs, attorneys and other advisors
- Post Office for change of address for all physicians
2 weeks before:
- DEA license (done in writing) as well as cooperating labs and hospitals
- State License, if from out of state
Partner with an Experienced Claims Management and Medical Billing Service
Working closely with a company experienced in medical claims billing and practice management can help remove a lot of guesswork in a major move. Because M-Scribe has a physical presence in Georgia, we are familiar with state regulations and able to advise prospective physicians on guidelines affecting the credentialing and reimbursement processes. Since 2002, we’ve helped practices of diverse specialties and sizes with revenue cycles and good practice management.
Contact M-Scribe for a free consultation via email or call 888-727-4234 to learn how to get off to a good start in your new location while meeting quality and compliance guidelines.