what to name your medical practice

Deciding on the Name of Your Medical Practice

The name of your practice is one of the few things that will remain with you for the life of the practice.  With this undeniable truth, isn’t it ironic (thank you Alanis) that few practitioners actually spend more than a glancing thought on what they should name their business.  We counsel new practitioners to think of naming their new practice in the same way that they would think about naming their first child.  While we agree that it’s not as important for some new practices (such as hospital-based practices, nursing home providers, etc.), it’s still good practice to think beyond the first two years and consider what your business could be in 5-20 years.

Have you actually thought that far in the future?  If not, why not?  Are you committed to this new practice?  That question is one of the first ones I ask myself (and clients) when evaluating new ventures.  You’re basically saying, “I believe this practice can and will be bigger than me so I’m going to plan accordingly.”  If you’re not thinking that far in the future, then you really should ask WHY NOT???  Now, I understand that there are situations where 10 years in the future isn’t really applicable, perhaps you’re retiring in 2 years or maybe you have the terminal disease, I Don’t Give a Shit, and you’re just looking to work your ass off to convert your time into money.  We have clients in every boat, but we certainly prefer those clients that have an eye on the future.  It’s just more fun to consult and dream with clients that have a vision for the future.

Now, as it relates to the name.  Let’s get into a few obvious considerations that you may or may not have considered.  I’m going to be kind of harsh but I’m not forcing you to read this so please skip this paragraph if you’re easily offended.  First off, do not name your business your first and last name.  WTF!  Why would you do that or even consider it?  Does your ego really need more affirmation?  Perhaps it’s not your ego and you’re just too lazy to think of something else.  I mean, seriously, is that the best your impressive intellect can come up with?  There are numerous (legitimate) reasons why this is a bad idea besides the myopic one.  The only exception to naming a practice after yourself is for those individuals who prefer and work towards building & marketing a personal brand.

Why should you be more creative in the naming of your business?  Why you should say no to naming your practice after yourself?

  • Are you counting on patients to look up your name on Google or in the insurance directory? Majority of all potential customers are searching based on provider type and location.  Cardiologist in Tampa, GI Doctor in Los Angeles, etc.
  • Do you think future colleagues or partners will like your name? We’ve actually been part of negotiations where the new partner requires that the name of the business be changed.  Smith Orthopaedics welcomes their new partner David Wesson
  • What if you fail or your company is sued? Do you really want the name of your failed business to be your name?  You don’t know what the future holds so protect your identity and personal brand when starting a new practice.

Considerations When Naming your Medical Practice:

  • Specialty- It’s often a very good idea to include your specialty in the name of your business. Carolina Cardiology Specialists or Charleston Cardiology Consultants PA vs Joseph Smith MD PA.  Which name do you think will show up when someone in South Carolina searches for a cardiologist?
  • Location- Again, consider adding the location to the name of your business. Remember, you can always add DBAs in the future if you expand.  Example, you name your business Charleston Cardiology Consultants PA but then you open a location in Columbia.  The easiest thing to do is obtain a DBA called Columbia Cardiology Consultants for marketing reasons.  However, if you think there’s a good chance that you are going to be in multiple cities, it would be best to go with Carolina Cardiology Specialists eliminate the need for multiple DBAs.
  • Competition- Scout out where you want to open and determine what your competitors are doing. Pretend you just moved to the area and you’re looking for a certain type of physician, what would you search for, do that and see if you can find a gap in coverage.  Don’t pick a name that is too similar to a major competitor as it just invites confusion.
  • Website Domain Availability- Make sure you can find a domain that works for the name of your new business. If you want to name it Carolina cardiology, just make sure that website is actually available.  The last thing you want is to name a business something that leads potential customers to your competitors that are already established.  Example: If I wanted to name my business Carolina Cardiology Consultants (CCC) but my competitor is Cardiology Consultants of Carolina (CCC), don’t you think it would be better to name my business- Carolina Heart Specialists or something that doesn’t correspond so closely to my primary competitor.
  • Growth Plans- This is pretty obvious but if you’re opening your first practice in LA but you know you ultimately want to have practices in San Diego, San Fran, Reno and Vegas, why would you name your business LA Physicians unless you plan to do DBAs in each of these locations.
  • Email- Remember that your business name or some abbreviated version of it will be your email domain.  Don’t do something like, Association of Surgical Specialists unless you like the idea of being the ass of a lot of jokes.  Also, if you’re going to name something really long like, “Center for Advanced Diagnostic and Surgical Intervention Experts of New York”, just remember you’re going to be saying that a lot and need something A LOT shorter when it comes to email.  Your email domain would be a secondary domain like cadsofnewyork.com.  Just think through these things before deciding on a name as these little things really do matter.

I understand that a lot of this stuff is pretty obvious but I hope that you found it helpful.  If so, we’d love for you to share with your colleagues.  Let us know if you have any questions, thoughts or if you disagree with this article.  We’d love to hear from you.