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We answer a lot of questions posed by newly graduated physicians and other healthcare providers about how to start-up their clinic. Starting a new business is a very time consuming initiative and providers often must learn 'on the fly' about business start-up and management.

One very important item that is often overlooked is compatibility between business associates. At Systemic Healthcare Solutions, we conduct operation reviews on all sizes of medical practices. More often than not, we come upon associates that are just not getting along. Ultimately, the tension builds to create a stressful work environment for providers and their support staff. This creates a very toxic work environment. No one wants to work in that kind of setting every day. Often times personality differences, different practice styles, principles and values are overlooked or not realized until it's too late. Even though it is sometimes challenging to find a potential new colleague, just because you found one doesn't mean you should stop your search. Do your due diligence and search for an associate that is the best fit to avoid future problems.

Before forming a group or taking on an associate, ask each other many questions. If you are in the same specialty, talk about various patient scenarios. Discuss where you want to collectively take a group practice. Are you on the same page with regard to long-term goals and objectives? For example, do you hope to expand the clinic to 6 associates and bring in allied health professionals to supplement the rent and provide an additional layer of service to your patients?

The message here is to have an open and honest dialogue to ensure you are compatible with potential associates from a clinical standpoint. Ensure that your personalities mesh well and your business goals are similar. If you are not on the same page, you are better off going your separate ways. If you are, ensure you have your lawyer or provincial medical association draft an associate agreement. Ensure there is a comfortable 'escape clause' with a reasonable duration for both parties to ensure that if you are dissatisfied with the business relationship, there is an option to end the business relationship amicably. 

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