Given today’s fast-paced lifestyle, it’s no wonder dialysis clinics are opening in the most improbable places: shopping malls, strip malls and stand-alone clinics. There are even mobile services that stock and replenish equipment so that folks undertaking restorative treatments can do so at home. Because convenience is the name of the game for today’s dialysis patient, rent a facility that’s sized to accommodate the number of patients you plan to serve; it won’t be long before everyone starts receiving the benefits of your startup.
Undertake a program of study that equips you to practice hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis, the two methods for cleaning patients' blood after their kidneys have shut down. Working as a technician at a hospital, clinic or private dialysis center gives you the insights, tools and knowledge you need to treat patients; you also become familiar with the nomenclature, technology, equipment and supplies required to operate a dialysis center.
Find a partner or hire staff proficient in accounting, administrative tasks and practices if you’re not sufficiently trained to run the business end of your dialysis clinic. There are plenty of responsibilities that can be shared with a numbers person, including overseeing supply orders, setting budgets and keeping records. Assume responsibility for hiring and firing, hygiene protocols and marketing programs — that's enough on your plate. It also helps to know and keep tabs on your competitors so you're able to market your services more efficiently and creatively.
Apply for funding to underwrite your dialysis center startup. Approach banks, venture capitalists and lending institutions, particularly those in the business of capitalizing medical facilities. Present potential lenders with a business plan and prove that you’re creditworthy and that your center has the potential to turn a profit. Apply due diligence to identifying license- and permit-granting authorities required by your state and city for the operation of a dialysis center.
Rent a facility. Your dialysis center can occupy any building that can be remodeled into a patient treatment center. The owners of Liberty Dialysis in Connecticut, for example, repurposed a building that once served as the cafeteria for Prudential Insurance’s 1,000-person staff. They chose the building for location, plenty of parking spaces and a 10,000-foot expanse that allowed them to set up 18 dialysis units. Today's dialysis centers can be small or large — your ability to fund and staff yours should be the key size determinants.
Purchase supplies and equipment. The market for used and refurbished dialysis equipment has exploded, so you can find everything you need to equip your center without breaking your budget. Contemporary dialysis machines come in myriad sizes and designs; certain models are made for centers with finite amounts of space and can be mounted to the wall; others are large, freestanding units with an abundance of features.
Keep patient welfare at the forefront of your business model. Dialysis patients want cleanliness, diversions such as TV, a helpful staff, adequate parking, handicap accessibility, a wide choice of appointment times, and assurances that all of the equipment used to treat their kidney ailments is sterile and state-of-the-art. You also need employees who are proficient at processing insurance company, Medicare and Medicaid forms, an essential component for success in this day and age of bureaucracy.
- Discoveries in Medicine: Dialysis Machine
- Medicare.gov: "Dialysis Facility Comparisons and Questions"; April 30, 2007
- Shore News Today: "Community Dialysis Center Soon to Open"; Suzanne Marino; May 11, 2010
- New Haven Register: "Dialysis Center Owner Knows Exactly What Her Patients Are Feeling"; Ed Stannard; Feb. 28, 2010
- Business.com: Dialysis Equipment and Supplies
- Dot Med Equipment: Dialysis Machines; Auctions; Reconditioned Machines
Based in Chicago, Gail Cohen has been a professional writer for more than 30 years. She has authored and co-authored 14 books and penned hundreds of articles in consumer and trade publications, including the Illinois-based "Daily Herald" newspaper. Her newest book, "The Christmas Quilt," was published in December 2011.