Wait No More—Here’s How You Can Beat the Challenges of Opening a Ketamine Clinic

Ketamine clinics are burgeoning throughout America, thanks to the medication’s effectiveness in treating various physical and psychiatric disorders.


If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you also want to make ketamine therapy a part of your private practice. But how far along with the start-up process have you gotten?

Opening your own ketamine clinic is a big step, and we don’t want you to think otherwise. Everybody would do it if it were easy. But as in all other roads less traveled, no block is insurmountable if you’re focused and persistent.


Let’s explore the issues that may be holding you back from opening your first ketamine infusion clinic.


Do You Think You Need Training to Run a Ketamine Infusion Center?


To answer this question, you need to consider two things. First is that you should have a trained ketamine provider staffing your clinic and in 2021 there are multiple ways to obtain training. Proper training ensures patient safety and ethical treatment (Singh et al., 2017). Second, you have to be familiar with the business aspects of starting and running a ketamine therapy center.


Many healthcare professionals are experts in therapies like ketamine infusion but are not confident about their business skills (Delaney et al., 2014). Meanwhile, some clinicians have an entrepreneurial flair but are not familiar with the drug’s uses may want a course to walk them through the ketamine literature and learn which patients are best to treat.

Collaboration with other professionals is a quick solution to these problems (Dobkin & Boothroyd, 2008). But if you want to get the most out of your learning, earn continuing education credit and participate in group coaching calls, then you will want to look into taking a comprehensive training program such as the online program offered by the Ketamine Academy.


How Should You Obtain a License for Your Ketamine Clinic?


That depends on your location. Ketamine is a Schedule III drug (US Drug Enforcement Administration, 2021). So only licensed healthcare providers can prescribe it. The licensing processes for ketamine providers and clinics vary from state to state. You may ask a regulatory consultant for help if you’re not sure how to proceed. You will also learn more about the laws governing ketamine clinics from our courses.


How Will You Fund Your Ketamine Clinic Start-Up?


Rising operational costs have reduced the number of private insurance-based practices over the last few years. However, this should not discourage you because successful ketamine clinics continue to spring up all over the country regardless. That is because both public and private institutions are making financial help available for enterprising healthcare professionals (Provenzano et al., 2020; Nemeroff, 2018).

We discuss the subject of funding separately in our courses and other articles, but contrary to popular belief start-up costs can actually be extremely low because this type of practice does not require large office space, facey build-outs, or expensive equipment. In fact, many clinicians have started small practices for under twenty thousand dollars.

How Big Will Your Staff Be?


The size of your staff will depend on how much you can and want to do on your own.


On the clinical service delivery side, you may need to consider partnering up with colleagues with complementary specialties or hiring those providers as contractors. Many outpatient ketamine treatment recipients, such as those with chronic pain, need multidisciplinary care (Dobkin & Boothroyd, 2008).

Administratively, you may start small by hiring a few people to assist you with receptionist work, nursing care, documentation, marketing, and handling finances (Moran, 2020).


What Is Your Marketing Plan?


A good marketing strategy should start with the target clients in mind. A lot of patients can benefit from a ketamine clinic’s services, but they won’t come to you unless you know how to connect with them.


Start with the internet. It is currently the most convenient tool for busy healthcare professionals to promote their private practices. You can reach out to patients online by social networking, creating a website, blogging, sending targeted emails, posting online ads, and many other ways (Ventola, 2014).

On the other hand, those less technologically inclined may be enticed to visit your clinic by well-designed pamphlets. Print material showing general information and testimonials of other patients’ experiences commonly convince patients to try a new treatment (Entwistle et al., 2011).


But none of these will do you any good unless you give patients the most important thing, exceptional care. You will never go wrong with creating the perfect patient experience.


How Will You Ensure Payment Collection While Keeping Patient Expenses Low?


Insurance coverage of ketamine’s off-label use is inconsistent at best, so paying out of pocket can be a challenge for many patients. But there are ways to make the treatments affordable while also ensuring your clinic’s financial stability. Our courses and other articles discuss these options in-depth but a few options to consider are package discounts, patient financing, obtaining referrals from the VA, and working with various foundations that fund ketamine therapy treatments for patients who otherwise couldn’t afford it.


Have You Thought of Future-Proofing Your Career?


Healthcare often provides a reliable income stream. However, factors like burnout, career-limiting injuries, long work hours, and area job shortages can force specialists to retire early or ponder other options (Cimbak et al., 2019; Marco et al., 2021).


Perhaps you haven’t started the process of opening a ketamine clinic because you’re currently in a comfortable tenured position. But no one can predict the future, as we have seen during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. So it’s always good to have a backup revenue source.


Running your own business—like a ketamine infusion center—can protect you from the financial fallout of a job loss. And the earlier you start, the sooner you can get ahead in this field.


Do You Need More Time Finalizing Your Plans?


It could be that your hectic schedule is keeping you from making the first step to opening a ketamine clinic. Time is manageable even in a busy industry like healthcare, but many providers don’t know where to start. Gordon and Borkan suggest the following (Gordon & Borkan, 2014):

  1. Establishing immediate and longstanding goals

  2. Determining priorities

  3. Planning and organizing activities

  4. Spending less time on distractions

Additionally, you can motivate yourself by thinking of all the perks that come along with running your own ketamine clinic. If you put your education and business skills to good use and team up with the right people, you can have long-term financial stability and full control of your career path.


Are You Worried About How a Ketamine Clinic Will Impact Your Professional Reputation?


There’s a long list of factors why healthcare workers generally resist change. Heavy regulations, slow technological adaptation, and stress avoidance are just a few of them (Mares, 2018). The same reasons can make you think twice about opening a ketamine clinic.


It could also be that you’re concerned about having to defend ketamine infusion treatment from skeptical colleagues. Oftentimes you will find that the skeptics have fallen far behind in their acquisition and study of the medical literature. Those who put in the effort to read the latest research quickly learn that the literature strongly supports ketamine’s medical value outside of the operating room.


First of all, the FDA approves ketamine intravenous infusion for the induction and maintenance of anesthesia and to complement other anesthetic agents (US Food and Drug Administration, 2020). It is a good pain control option if your clinic performs surgical and diagnostic procedures.


Second, ketamine is also effective in various other conditions. They include chronic pain and mental health issues like treatment-resistant depression, anxiety disorder, substance abuse, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Meanwhile, the doses required in such settings are low enough to be in the realm of light to moderate sedation which greatly minimizes adverse side effects. The NMDA receptor blocker’s side effects are dose-dependent.

Among its off-label applications, the evidence for IV ketamine’s safety and effectiveness is strongest for refractory major depressive disorder and pain management. In fact, researchers found that it is even better than intranasal esketamine (Spravato)—its FDA-approved alternate—in treating depressive symptoms, suicidal ideation, and pain (Bahji et al., 2021; Siegel et al., 2021; Li et al., 2021; Balzer et al., 2020).


On the other hand, from the patients’ point of view, those who have had ketamine infusion therapy attest to its efficacy (Sakurai et al., 2020). Some even see it as their last hope (Veraart et al., 2018).


Our courses and other articles discuss ketamine’s pharmacology and clinical performance thoroughly. You can use these materials to educate your colleagues.


The bottom line, IV ketamine therapy works for a lot of illnesses. But as in all other treatments, good patient screening methods, keen monitoring, and timely side effect management are also crucial to success.


All things considered, what should matter most is that you’re helping patients live normal lives again. As long as you have sound protocols and safety measures in place, your ketamine clinic will help improve the lives of those you treat.


The Best Time to Open a Ketamine Clinic Is Now


Ketamine infusion therapy gives refractory mood disorders and pain patients fresh hope, thus fueling the current growth in ketamine clinics. If you haven’t taken the first step in opening a ketamine center, consider our recommendations above and consider starting sooner than later or someone else in your market just might capture the success that could have been yours.


Running a ketamine center will take you out of your comfort zone. But help is also available, starting with our educational resources. The demand for ketamine infusion therapy exceeds the supply at this time, but it may not stay that way for long. So there’s no better time to open your own ketamine clinic than now.

 

References


Bahji, A., Vazquez, G. H. & Zarate, C. A. J. (2021). Comparative Efficacy of Racemic Ketamine and Esketamine for Depression: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Journal of Affective Disorders, 278, 542-555. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2020.09.071


Balzer, N., McLeod, S. L., Walsh, C. & Grewal, K. (2020). Low-Dose Ketamine for Acute Pain Control in the Emergency Department: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Academic Emergency Medicine, 28(4), 444-454. https://doi.org/10.1111/acem.14159


Cimbak, N., Stolarski, A., Moseley, J., O’Neal, P., Whang, E. & Kristo, G. (2019). Burnout Leads to Premature Surgeon Retirement: A Nationwide Survey. Journal of Surgery and Research, 2(3), 159-169. http://dx.doi.org/10.26502/jsr.2642-10020033


Delaney, A. J., McCandless, B. & Kramer, J. B. (2014). Doctors Extending Their Education: Why an MBA? Is It a Degree of Success? Missouri Medicine, 111(3), 170-172.


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Li, X., Hua, G. & Peng, F. (2021). Efficacy of Intranasal Ketamine for Acute Pain Management in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences, 25(8), 3286-3295. https://doi.org/10.26355/eurrev_202104_25738


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Provenzano, D. A., Sitzman, B. T., Florentino, S. A. & Buterbaugh, G. A. (2020). Clinical and Economic Strategies in Outpatient Medical Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine, 45(8), 579-585. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/rapm-2020-101640


Sakurai, H., Jain, F., Foster, S., Pedrelli, P., Mischoulon, D., Fava, M. & Cousin, C. (2020). Long-Term Outcome in Outpatients with Depression Treated with Acute and Maintenance Intravenous Ketamine: A Retrospective Chart Review. Journal of Affective Disorders, 276, 660-666. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2020.07.089


Siegel, A. N., Di Vincenzo, J. D., Brietzke, E., Gill, H., Rodrigues, N. B., Lui, L. M. W., Teopiz, K. M., Ng, J., Ho, R., McIntyre, R. S. & Rosenblat, J. D. (2021). Antisuicidal and Antidepressant Effects of Ketamine and Esketamine in Patients with Baseline Suicidality: A Systematic Review. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 137, 426-436. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpsychires.2021.03.009


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