Since it can be difficult to gain the necessary insight just with a traditional interview, Truitt suggests giving a candidate a small project to do, with minimal guidance.
“This will provide you essential insight into how they organize, accomplish and bill for work, as well as the quality of their work product and their communication skills, that you simply can’t get any other way,” he says. “Also, physicians work extreme hours, so an attorney that is only available on weekdays from nine to five is likely going to be challenging for them to work with.”
Harry Nelson, JD, founder and managing partner of the Los Angeles-based healthcare law firm Nelson Hardiman LLP, says having a relationship with an attorney knowledgeable about regulatory compliance is essential, as is working with one who regularly deals with healthcare issues.
Nelson says that asking other physicians for attorney recommendations is a smart way to find one, but that researching articles written by attorneys also can identify lawyers who are knowledgeable about any specific concerns a physician may have.
Finding the right banker
A banker is an important part of the financial team because he or she can offer services to simplify a physician’s busy life, such as dealing with student loan debt and obtaining consolidation loans.
James G. Edwards, III, managing director of SunTrust Private Wealth Management Medical Specialty Group, Atlanta, Georgia, says it’s nearly impossible for a physician, both personally and professionally, to self-finance all that they desire for their practice or personal needs.
“On the practice side, we recommend that physicians set up a working capital line of credit,” he says. “Many times, practices are going to have cash flow timing disruptions, like a delay in insurance payments, so having access to a line of credit can help bridge the timing difference.”
For capital-intensive medical practices that want to finance equipment, having access to funding is important as well, Edwards notes. “Even if they have the cash to pay for the equipment outright, interest rates have been good and terms are attractive, so it may make sense for physicians and practices to use a (bank) instead of writing a check,” he says.
On the personal side, many physicians work with banks on home mortgages and many bankers recommend that physicians have a personal line of credit for cash flow disruptions that could come based on a delay in income or a significant expense.
“Physicians should look for advisers who understand how a medical practice works corporately as well as the professional life cycle of a physician personally,” Edwards says. “For example, when making loans to a practice, having advisers that understand the unique financial characteristics of the practice can help ensure a well-structured loan and a timely approval and closing.”