Can you predict how many patients you will see? What can you expect as your patient volume? Many new and even seasoned nurse practitioner entrepreneurs are always asking themselves “How many patients am I going to see?” This question is critically important because it will allow you to create an expectation of your potential future revenue.
How many patients you are going to see in a given week or month can be difficult to predict. Some months are slow, and other months are busy. This is part of the game and you need to expect this. Do not allow a slow month to decrease your motivation, instead, see it as a time to get some other work done (marketing, bookkeeping, website content, etc.). Those busy months are AWESOME and really are the time that a business can stock away some cash. Use those months as leverage!
Regardless, patient volume will fluctuate. I was talking with a fellow nurse practitioner entrepreneur the other night over email and he was commenting that his men’s health practice is very unpredictable. He said 1 week he will see 6 new patients, and the next he will only see 1. I explained to him that this was a very common occurrence. My practice behaves in a similar way. Some weeks we see 10 new patients and the very next week we see none! It makes you want to pull your hair out sometimes!
This phenomenon is common with my medical cannabis practice as well. Some weeks we just kill it, and then other weeks it is dead. I am sure many other practice owners reading this can relate. New or potential nurse practitioner entrepreneurs might be scared of the unpredictability, but the good news is that after 6-12 months of establishing a solid patient base, the slow times do not make much of an impact on your revenue because you have those established patients coming in to keep you afloat. This is just another reason why it is critically important you give your new practice 6 months at a minimum before calling it quits.
My men’s health practice might not see any new patients 1 week, but we we will still have 10-15 follow ups scheduled. Establishing a practice where you have a predictable source of new and established patients usually takes 1 year to build just FYI… This is an AWESOME feeling to know that you have regular paying patients… It will keep you afloat!
Ultimately, your expected patient volume comes down to what service line you are providing. Some services are unpredictable (medical cannabis) while others are pretty stable (primary care). Here is a list of common niche service lines and their expected weekly patient volumes based off part-time (10-15) and full-time (30ish) hours. I created this list from my experience in chatting with dozens of nurse practitioner entrepreneurs over the past couple years.
- IV Infusion Clinics: 6-10 infusions part-time or 15-30 full-time.
- Men’s and Women’s Health: 2-5 new patients and 5-10 F/U part-time or 4-8 new patients and 10-20 F/U full-time.
- Weight Loss: 2-6 new patients and 4-8 F/U part-time or 5-10 new patients and 10-20 F/U full-time.
- Ketamine Infusion: 2-4 new patients and 5-10 maintenance patients (25ish hours weekly).
- Suboxone Clinic: 2-6 new patients and 10-30 F/U part-time or 4-8 new patients and 20-40 F/U full-time.
As you can see, it is a fairly predictable number in terms of patient volume based off your availability. If you live in a highly populated area and put in 40 hours a week into your niche clinic, then I would expect these full-time numbers to double. If you follow The Elite Nurse Practitioner Model though, the above numbers would be realistic for part-time niche practices.
Another aspect you need to consider is with the addition of multiple services into a single practice. The above examples are predominately based off providing ONE niche service line. When you begin to combine multiple services such as IV infusion, HRT, weight loss, ketamine, etc., it will increase your patient volume because different people are looking for difference services. This is really what a general “wellness” type of practice does. The downside though is that it requires more hours from the nurse practitioner, therefore the practice will go from part-time to more of a full-time endeavor very quickly. This is what is happening to the last NP I interviewed. He introduced IV infusion into his practice and his volume almost DOUBLED over a period of 3-4 weeks through word of mouth and social media marketing!
The takeaway message is this: some weeks will be slow and other weeks will be busy. Expect this! It can take many months to develop a practice where a steady and predictable stream of patients walk through your door. Don’t get down when you only see 1 new patient one week, because often times the very next week you will see 6! You just never know. This is part of the fun of owning a practice, it is never the same and every week brings new challenges and surprises. It is never boring as a nurse practitioner entrepreneur!