Your hospice startup checklist: 7 essential items

Hospices play a special role in our healthcare system, helping patients and their families navigate terminal illnesses in comfort and with dignity.

But even with its emphasis on human care and empathy, a hospice is still a business at the end of the day. As such, it’s obligated to follow the rules and regulations of many other businesses, though it does have unique requirements.

If you’re considering starting a hospice — either providing services at a facility or at patients’ homes — it’s important to have foundational knowledge of what it takes to get one up and running. Below is an essential hospice startup checklist you can use to prepare for opening a hospice business.

Your 7-item hospice startup checklist

1. Create a business plan

With any new venture, you need to research and plan before jumping into the market. Proper planning prevents poor performance, as the saying goes — and hospices are no exception. Not only will planning boost your chances of financial success, but it will also ensure you can provide a high quality of care to patients and their families.

When creating a business plan, you’ll need to address several topics to make certain you’re on the right path:

  • Business description: What is the name of your business, and what exactly does it do?
  • Mission statement: What’s your hospice’s unique purpose, goals, and values?
  • Audience and market identification: What part of the market will you operate in, and what type of patients will you serve?
  • Competitive analysis: Who are your local competitors? What are they doing well, and where can they make improvements?
  • Financial projections: How much money will you need to start your business, and what kind of ROI can you expect over the first three to five years?

2. Establish a legal entity

It’s wise to separate your personal and business assets. Do that by creating a legal entity for your hospice. There are multiple options available depending on your state, but you’ll most likely choose from one of three main business structures:

  • Limited liability companies (LLCs) are flexible business structures that offer personal liability protection. The IRS determines taxes for LLCs based on how they’re set up (e.g., single member vs partnership).
  • Corporations (C corps) offer the strongest protection from personal liability and enable you to raise money by selling stock.
  • S corporations (S corps) are similar to C corps in many ways but are considered special because of the way you report taxes — they are “pass through” entities —  and because of their unique requirements, such as having less than 100 shareholders.

3. Acquire federal and state ID numbers

To pay taxes, hire employees, and open a business banking account, among other tasks, you’ll need a federal ID number. This number is often referred to as an employer identification number (EIN), and you can apply for one on the IRS website. You may also need a state tax ID number but only if your business is required to pay state taxes.

4. Open a business banking account

A business banking account helps keep your personal funds separate from your business earnings. When combined with one of the legal entities above, it also helps keep those personal funds protected in the event someone sues your business.

5. Obtain a hospice license

You can’t operate a hospice without a license, so it’s critical you do your due diligence to understand and abide by your state’s directions for securing one. The cost, renewal period, and requirements for licenses vary between states.

6. Purchase business insurance

Insurance is critical in the hospice industry because you literally hold someone’s life in your hands. You need to protect yourself and your business in the event of an accident or negligence.

In some states, you may be required to have certain types of insurance. For example, general liability is a common policy that covers a number of scenarios. In addition, workers’ compensation insurance will be necessary for your employees, and commercial property insurance may be required for your buildings and equipment.

7. Develop a marketing plan

How will you attract new patients? Who will you market to, and how will you reach them? Think through these questions and create a marketing plan that outlines how you’ll communicate and promote your business. Your company’s bottom line will depend on your ability to consistently increase your census (the number of patients under your care).

Effective hospice operations with the right technology

The startup phase can be rough, given the many tasks you have to address manually. But once you’re up and running, it’s important to digitize your operations.

Jotform Enterprise provides secure hospice management software that helps you run an efficient hospice — letting you focus less on paperwork and more on patient care. Jotform has a number of customizable, easy-to-build forms for everything from ordering patient supplies to assessing palliative care.

With Jotform, you can streamline and automate your work processes to save your entire staff time and make patient and family interactions smooth and seamless. You can also use Jotform to create and sign contracts and agreements, whether they’re with new employees or new patients.

You can rest easy knowing that Jotform’s wide array of forms and features that help with HIPAA compliance. Start building secure forms for your hospice business today.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

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