Planning for your practice closure, like with most things in life, is best done in advance.
While this may not always be possible, it makes a big difference when it happens. Practice closure is all about expectation management. The more you can prepare yourself, your patients, your colleagues, etc.,… the better.
Here’s what you might want to think about, and when:
1 YEAR IN ADVANCE
- Review your office lease for specifics regarding termination. If you own your property, check with your accountant / lawyer for advice on selling or maintaining.
- If you have any block billing (for uninsured services) in place, consider when you should be stopping the billing and cancelling renewals.
- If you are in a private practice, offering uninsured services, check on all advertising agreements you may have in place.
6 MONTHS IN ADVANCE
- Check with your provincial College of Physicians and Surgeons regarding the regulations concerning medical records retention.. Keep in mind that pediatric records command a longer retention period than do the records of your adult patients.
- For any legal uncertainties, contact the Canadian Medical Protective Association (CMPA).
- Unless you are planning to store all of your records on your own and facilitate copy transfers on your own for the next 10 years, contact a reliable and compliant record storage company that specializes in medical records management.
3 MONTHS IN ADVANCE
- Notification to Patients. This usually takes on the form of a letter to patients last seen within the last 2 – 3 years. Assuming that your billing database has been kept up to date, an extract will yield all the mailing information for this group. In smaller communities, often a few notices placed in the local newspaper will suffice.
- Letter of Notification to patients should include: last day of practice, doctors in the area accepting new patients, information regarding the transfer of medical records, the contact information for the custodian of the medical records.
- Notification to professional contacts (specialists to whom you refer, labs, hospitals, pharmacies, College of Physicians)
- Begin to source out places to sell or donate your used medical equipment and furniture (missions to 3rd world countries, craigslist, kijiji, etc.)
- Notify your staff of your planned closure. Bear in mind that you may require some assistance after your last day with patients.
- Consider if notice is required for the following: utility companies, phone company, answering service, cleaning service, EMR and computer service, credit/debit card companies, etc.
- Consider whether you will still be requiring your license to practice, insurance, etc.
1 Month in Advance
- Post office notice regarding mail forwarding and/or change of address
- Notify College of Physicians and Surgeons and provincial medical association
- Contact all periodical publishers for which you hold subscriptions regarding address change
The information above is meant to be a general guideline for the dealing with the most common issues involved in closing a practice. For full assistance with putting some timelines into place for your own medical practice closure, practice closure and record storage, contact RSRS at 1-888-563-3732 or click here.