Why physicians should sell their practice

There are many reasons to sell your practice. Physicians attempt to sell their practices for various reasons. Some physicians are reaching the age of retirement, while others are looking to add a partner, who, in time will take over the practice as a whole.  Whatever the reason, attempting to get a quality price for the practice can, at times, be a challenge in this current marketplace.

It is far easier to sell a practice that is well established and has been growing, as compared to a relatively new practice without much to offer a prospective buyer. As a new physician, it is, in my opinion, easier to join an existing practice and work into purchasing the practice. This is preferable to hanging a shingle and starting from scratch. That being said, it is not uncommon to walk into a practice and negotiate a purchase price if the provider is interested in leaving, and the new practitioner is looking forward to a long career.

Plan for your future

Selling a medical practice requires planning ahead of time. It is a good idea to think a year in advance and to create a plan for bringing on the new owner.  It is important over a period of time, such as six months, to introduce him/her to the patients while transitioning out of the practice. This creates continuity of care and a seamless transition to the new provider.

When deciding to sell a practice you will want to make sure the profit and productivity is at the highest it can be. In this way, the buyer will see the benefits of purchasing at the price you are asking. That being said, there should always be some room for negotiation, depending upon what you are asking and what you are being offered.

When you are planning to sell a practice, it is important to think of the staff that is currently working. There is the concept that change is difficult and a certain amount of insecurity over changing hands can make for a nervous staff. Make sure that the staff understands that their jobs are secure and only the provider is changing, and nothing more.

Do you know your value?

It is always a good idea to get a professional appraisal to help you evaluate the value of your practice, in order to ensure you are asking the proper amount; neither too high nor too low. Once you have narrowed down the asking price, go ahead and prepare the appropriate professional promotional package. An online webpage will certainly be of assistance, as it will help you cross the geographical boundaries.

It is important to have prospective buyers sign a non-disclosure agreement to make certain that confidentiality is maintained. You will be discussing private financial matters that are specific to your practice, and to some degree intellectual property.

Selling a practice may not be the easiest thing to accomplish, but if you approach the sale with a planned purpose, you will negotiate the proper price. In addition, you must create a reasonable timeline, to insure the success of the deal for both parties.  With all of this in play, you will secure consistent payment of all you are due over the specified time line, while at the same time deliver a quality product to the person who takes over the reins.

Adam Alpers is a primary care physician and blogs at Medical Billing & Coding for Physicians.

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  • Primary Care Internist

    the sequel, or maybe prequel, to this post should be “To the aspiring medical student – why you should aspire to mediocrity, to giving up a career as a physician before it starts – become an NP and work for a pimply-faced 30-yr-old MBA who tells you what to do, forever”.

    • jsmith

      I briefly worked for a pimply-faced 25 year old who had a bachelor’s degree in Health Care Management. The 30 year-olds had already all been fired or quit.

  • jsmith

    Anyone who pays a nickel in goodwill for a family medicine practice is a financial incompetent.

  • max

    If the doc you are looking to by from is older, tell him “no thanks. I’m waiting to buy from your desperate widow for pennies on the dollar after you’re gone. Meanwhile I will move across the hall, stay open til 8 every night and 1 on Saturday”

  • Marc Gorayeb, MD

    If you are selling with a plan to continue in the practice as an employee of a bigger entity (hospital, multi-physician behemoth, etc…) then good luck with that autonomy-equals-happiness thing.
    Also, I wouldn’t be too quick to assure existing employees that their jobs are secure. As with any change of ownership in any business, they will have to demonstrate their value to the new owner.

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