How Much Does It Cost to Start a Mobile Medical Clinic?
April 13, 2022 | Last Updated on: February 2, 2023
April 13, 2022 | Last Updated on: February 2, 2023
More and more medical professionals and healthcare providers are considering whether it makes sense to operate a costly brick-and-mortar healthcare operation, hospital, or doctor’s office — or if it could be a better move to open a mobile business.
This article will lay out the startup costs of opening a mobile medical service and explain the factors you must consider before investing in one.
According to M&R Specialty Trailers and Trucks, a firm that customizes medical vehicles, a new basic mobile medical unit costs approximately $45,000. A modest buildout of that unit would add between $50,000 and $75,000 to the cost. Depending on the size, extras, amenities, and equipment added, a unit could cost anywhere between $175,000 and $375,000.
A unit that provides relatively simple services that require limited equipment, such as mental health care, would fall on the lower end of that range. One equipped to handle complex services, such as checkups, blood work, and surgery will fall on the high end.
If you want to do your own math, here are some costs for common medical equipment:
Your mobile medical van should look like one and explain the services provided in the unit. You’ll need exterior finishing — which could include painting, a body wrap, or stickers — to do that. One of the key benefits of a mobile healthcare practice, when compared with a fixed location, is that you can market your business while working and traveling from place to place. You want to make the most of this opportunity.
The cost of a full-body wrap and other exterior detailing for the typical medical unit ranges from $12,000 to $25,000, depending on the size of the vehicle and the complexity of its design. These benchmark estimates include the design, graphics, materials, and labor. The price could go up if you decide to go with a wrap and detailing process guaranteed to last a long time.
Like everything else, you have to pay taxes on medical service vehicles. In the United States, you’ll have to pay Federal Excise Tax (FET), which is similar to sales tax and adds 12 percent to the purchase price of your vehicle. The government requires FET on the initial retail sale of vans that weigh more than 26,000 pounds. The typical medical service van falls into this category.
There may also be state taxes you’ll have to pay on your medical vehicle, and there could be tax exemptions depending on specific circumstances. You may also qualify for grants and other benefits if you use the van to serve a disadvantaged group of people. Consult with your tax expert before purchasing a mobile medical unit.
Doctors, dental practices, and other healthcare operations have traditionally operated out of buildings like medical offices, hospitals, pharmacies, and clinics. It’s how the health care system in the United States and most of the world has done business for a century or more.
In recent years, mobile medical vans and on-site vehicle medical clinics have become critical ways to deliver healthcare services across the United States and worldwide. Some of the reasons for their popularity include:
Before purchasing a mobile medical vehicle, speak with someone who already has one. Find out how (or if) it’s benefited their business, the pros and cons of the model they purchased, how they fitted it out, its operational costs, and their return on investment.
No two healthcare practices are the same. The same is true of medical vehicles. Here are some common categories.
Mobile health clinics provide all types of services to outpatients. Mobile clinics are typically highly customized to meet the unique needs of a healthcare practice and its client base. A mobile general medical clinic provides a controlled, safe, and hygienic space for healthcare professionals to provide primary care, preventive care, and follow-up services to patients. The services can range from routine, preventative medicine to urgent emergency medical care. Clinics are usually customized with equipment to do blood tests, electrocardiography, and immunizations and support the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases.
This type of vehicle serves as a dental clinic on wheels. These vans are typically heavy-duty, tough, and come with four-wheel drive so they can navigate rugged terrain in remote areas, even in inclement weather. This makes it possible for dentists and hygienists to provide care and treatment to the most isolated individuals and localities. Mobile dental facilities offer a safe, secure, and hygienic environment where dental professionals can evaluate, manage and treat oral illnesses, disorders, and conditions. They can also conduct dental checkups and offer prevention services. Mobile dental vehicles are tricked out to make it possible to provide tooth restoration services, extract or surgically remove teeth, scale teeth, and conduct root canals.
A mobile x-ray vehicle allows healthcare professionals to use x-ray equipment to look for conditions like Pneumothorax and Pneumoperitoneum, foreign objects, abdominal issues, lower respiratory tract infections (such as pneumonia or tuberculosis), kidney stones, and bone fractures.
Many of these vehicles can also be used to provide mobile MRI services, which requires a much higher level of customization.
Mobile medical vans have been used as covid-19 mobile ICU facilities. This is a relatively new use for these vehicles. Even though the coronavirus pandemic is waning, these facilities will be valuable in future pandemics and natural calamities. They’re also great for adding emergency room capacity during flu season and other busy periods. These highly designed and equipped medical units can better meet healthcare facility needs than makeshift hospitals in tents and warehouses.
Mobile laboratories function as full-service medical testing facilities. They can operate independently or be added to brick-and-mortar hospitals or clinics to supplement their laboratories. Virtually any type of test can be performed in a mobile laboratory if it’s outfitted properly.
Mobile surgical centers are much more than a surgical unit on wheels. They’re fully equipped with transportable surgical operating rooms. If designed correctly, a mobile surgical center can be set up and ready to handle any operation in less than an hour, whether it’s routine or emergency surgery.
Dialysis facilities can deliver the highest level of therapy to patients with kidney disease who cannot make it to regular dialysis centers. The quality of care provided by mobile centers and bricks-and-mortar ones is identical.
Patients who need immediate urgent care because of a trauma or other life-threatening issue can often be treated in a mobile emergency room. (Think about it: Does it make more sense to get an ambulance to a patient to take them to an emergency room or bring the emergency room right to them?) The purpose of a mobile emergency room is to stabilize a patient before transferring them to a surgical facility or critical care center. Mobile emergency rooms often serve the secondary purpose of providing regular patient care.
Mobile hospital complexes are hospitals built from multiple mobile vehicles to treat illnesses and injuries. This type of hospital may include a mobile emergency room, surgical facility, x-ray unit, lab, and more. You can build a state-of-the-art health center that meets a community’s healthcare needs quickly and at a relatively low cost.
These mobile facilities are ideal for responding to environmental and man-made catastrophes, such as earthquakes, typhoons, hurricanes, tornadoes, terrorist attacks, and war.
The most common type of mobile medical vehicle is an ambulance. Ambulances are intended primarily for emergencies to deal with immediate medical crises and safely transfer patients to hospital emergency departments or other facilities as needed.
Here’s what you need to know to get started.
Get information from patients and people in your community about their needs and the best way to address them. Preventative health, general care, mammography, dentistry, specialized medical care, homeless care, and many other services are all available through mobile medical vehicles all over the United States and the world. Tailor the services you offer to meet your community’s most pressing needs. Once you do this, you’ll be able to set up your mobile medical practice.
Setting up a mobile medical service isn’t as expensive as opening a brick-and-mortar operation. Still, it takes more money than most people or organizations have. Make arrangements to secure financing to get your business off the ground.
Some common options include:
This is a critical step in setting up a mobile medical business. You can either buy a new one or get a used one. If you decide to go used, have it inspected to ensure it’s mechanically sound and all the equipment works properly.
Some patients may be concerned about getting care from a mobile provider. You will be better able to change their minds if you have the best people on your team.
Work with a branding agency to develop a novel way to make your business stand out from mobile and brick-and-mortar competitors. A solid brand will help you articulate what makes your operation different from — and better than — all the others.
Figure out how you’ll accept Medicare, Medicaid, health insurance, and direct payments.
Use social media and other marketing and communication tactics to get the word out about your mobile healthcare practice to people in your community.
Never settle. Keep challenging yourself to provide more and better healthcare services to people in your community. You’re taking a step into the future by offering mobile medical support to people, and you should never stop trying to provide more.
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