Is your medical practice still on solid ground or do you need to make some changes?

By Zac Herps, Managing Director at Hillhouse Legal Partners
| 6 min. read

Key takeaways

  • A solid business structure can protect you and support the long-term success of your practice, but it involves more than simply incorporating a company or establishing a trust
  • The processes and agreements you put in place during the early days of your practice may now be outdated
  • Protection of websites and patient data is usually an inexpensive process compared with the risks of a competitor dispute or patient data being compromised

You may have done the hard yards establishing your practice and securing your reputation as a medical professional, but don’t think your business can now take care of itself.

The start of a new year is a good time to look at how you can ensure your medical practice is still on solid ground and positioned well for continued growth.

I believe the first question you need to ask yourself is whether the structure of your business is effective both from an asset protection view point and is it also tax effective.

A strong business structure can protect you and support the long-term success of your practice but it involves more than simply incorporating a company or establishing a trust.

For example, what asset protection do you have? Are you sure your family home is protected under the current business structure? Is that structure also the most tax effective for you?

How long since you’ve looked at your management of cash flow and liabilities?

It’s also worth taking the time to consider how service fees are paid, who is obligated to provide which services and how you distribute costs and profits among unitholders, shareholders or beneficiaries under your trust(s).

Remember, the processes you put in place during the early days of the practice may now be outdated. For instance, medical companies were common trading entities a decade ago, but many doctors now trade as sole-traders. Service entities were commonly trusts but company structures are now on the rise.

Another key area to consider within your practice is the need for clearly defined roles, expectations and agreements with your employees and contractors. Once again, the agreements you put in place during the early days may now be outdated – especially with changes to workplace legislation.

Do you have employment or independent contractor/ locum agreements which provide sufficient protections and clarity?

And are your policies and procedures adequate for things such as dealing with employee leave, discrimination and sexual harassment, bullying, IT and security, Workplace Health and Safety, performance management and handling of complaints?

One other area I find is often overlooked by medical practitioners is the protection of intellectual property.

This is one of the main things that sets your brand apart from your competitors and failing to protect it can leave your business vulnerable to a competitor using your business name or logos.

And in this day and age, it is also important to know your websites and patient data are protected. Generally, this is an inexpensive process, especially compared with the risks of a competitor dispute or patient data being compromised.

Finally, it is important to ensure that your business and family are protected and looked after if anything happens to you.

Your business is valuable and you should treat it that way by ensuring you have a valid Will drafted by a lawyer, to ensure your individual circumstances are properly considered and your wishes are upheld.

Having a valid Will ensures your estate is protected from certain claims or people; your family is looked after and your superannuation is distributed as you wish. There are also potential tax advantages that can be gained through a will properly drafted by a lawyer.

Apart from anything else, there be substantial costs incurred to administer your estate if you die without a valid Will.

I know a lot to consider, but it’s worth it in the long run, for your sake, for the sake of your business and potentially the same of your family.

The information in this blog is intended only to provide a general overview and has not been prepared with a view to any particular situation or set of circumstances. It is not intended to be comprehensive nor does it constitute legal advice. While we attempt to ensure the information is current and accurate we do not guarantee its currency and accuracy. You should seek legal or other professional advice before acting or relying on any of the information in this blog as it may not be appropriate for your individual circumstances.