Challenges in Starting Your Own Practice and How to Overcome Them

Working for yourself as a private medical practitioner comes with a host of benefits! You have more flexibility in structuring operations, freedom in making business decisions, a higher level of personalised care for your patients, and the opportunity to define your own work culture. Despite these advantages, global trends indicate that fewer practitioners are going private than ever before. Why would anybody forego these perks? In reality, setting up your own practice is a high-risk, high-reward endeavour. However, if you’re aware of the challenges you’ll face and prepare to combat them, you can set yourself up for success in the private sphere. Here, we’ll consider an overview of three categories of challenges you’ll need to consider when setting up your private practice: financial, administrative, and staff-related.

Financial Challenges:


Inadequate start-up capital.

Spending on the wrong
things at the wrong time.

Lack of financial strategy
and business plan.

Perhaps one of the most obvious barriers to success in the private medical sector is finance. Starting a business is an expensive undertaking, particularly in the medical field. You’ll need to consider costs associated with renting or purchasing premises, medical equipment, office supplies and software, administrative expenses like insurance and registration, staffing… the list can seem never-ending! Proper planning is crucial to prepare you for any financial curve balls that may come your way.


Secure your funding through an accredited and reliable financial service provider (FSP). Apply to a variety of FSPs to ensure you get the best rates.

Create a detailed business plan with educated costing projections for all expenses and predicted revenue.

Disclose any existing debt and factor this into your costing.

Prioritise your investments – there’s no point having beautiful interior design if you can’t afford equipment!

It may be in your best interest to hire a financial consultant. This leads us to our next set of challenges...

Staffing Challenges:


Underestimating business and
administrative skills required
to run a private practice.

Not hiring the right people.

Trying to do everything yourself.

Even the most skilled medical practitioners with years of experience may find themselves failing in private practice. This is because running a business demands a vastly different skill set to treating patients.


Hire people! While this may seem expensive at first, having knowledgeable consultants or employees who are trained to address business aspects will save you time, energy, and money in the long term.

We recommend consulting with a lawyer/HR consultant, recruiting a competent and skilled office manager to drive efficiency and appointing an accountant. A compliance officer is strongly encouraged.

Work closely with these individuals to development the employee agreements, compensation models, office policies, and staff hiring and training procedures to create your ideal working environment.

Having these experts on board will help you to tackle the final set of challenges: administrative challenges.

Administrative Challenges:


Not meeting regulations

Lack of credentials

Inopportune investment
in technology for your

Of course, all businesses come with challenges. However, the sheer volume of administration associated with running a private medical practice elevates this level of difficulty. It’s imperative that you remain on top of administrative procedures for your private practice to succeed.


Ensure proper documentation is valid and up to date with national and provincial authorities.

Confirm all registration with relevant regulatory authorities (such as the Health Professions Council of South Africa, Department of Health, South African Nursing Council, Allied Health Professions Council, South African Pharmacy Council, and South African Dental Technicians Council).

Obtain a practice code number (PCN) from the Board of Healthcare Funders of Southern Africa and negotiate with medical aid providers.

Get insured. This includes medical malpractice insurance, general liability insurance, property insurance, worker’s compensation insurance.

Prioritise your technological investments. The most important software for your practice will be electronic health records software, billing software, and scheduling software.

Although this may seem overwhelming, remember that knowledge is power! The best way to overcome these difficulties is to be well-researched and adequately prepared. Now that you are aware of these challenges, you can ready yourself to overcome them as you set up your private medical practice.


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