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Buying a new practice – should I purchase the existing company or just the business assets?

Introduction Most Australian businesses are run as a Sole trader; Partnership; Company; or Trust, with the majority run as a company. Many dentists looking to buy a practice for the first time are not sure whether it is better or worse, and whether it is legally sound, to buy an existing company of the seller that owns the practice assets or to buy the practice assets individually and leave the original company with the seller. The short answer is that is legal and possible to use either option.  Whether you should or not will depend on the circumstances but this article summarised the common considerations. Before you decide the way in which you will purchase the practice, and whether to buy at all, your lawyer and accountant should thoroughly review…
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Can I use an imported medical device legally in Australia?

The role of the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods Summary In the last few years the retail industry has moved increasingly into the online space, providing convenient access to goods. The health industry is no exception, with health professionals such as Dentists and General Practitioners looking to the internet when buying medical devices. However, it’s important to ensure that any medical devices you buy for use on patients are listed on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods. If they aren’t listed, you risk fines, registration infringements, claims of medical negligence and insurance policies not responding to claims. Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods listing is also an important consideration if you start buying medical devices from a new supplier who may not be aware of Australia’s laws. What is the ARTG?…
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Moving from contract to settlement – what else do I need to consider when buying my new dental practice?

As published in the ADAQ Dental Mirror, Summer 2019 edition Buying a dental practice is complex and involves a range of commercial investigations (due diligence) and planning. The first article (see Spring edition) covered due diligence, checking all of the existing parts of the practice. In this next article I will walk you through the steps after due diligence up to settlement and opening your practice! After reading these articles you should have an understanding of the legal process when buying a new practice and be prepared for the types of discussions you’ll have with your lawyer. Step 1. Reviewing the sale contract Working through the Heads of Agreement with the seller confirmed what you will buy from them and the due diligence process may have identified some specific items…
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What are the proposed changes to the Queensland Disability Parking Permit Scheme for people with vision impairments and what would they mean for me and my patients?

Proposed changes to the Queensland Disability Parking Permit Scheme The history Eligibility to obtain a Disability Parking Permit in Queensland is exclusively focused on a person’s ability to walk.  For this reason, people with intellectual, psychiatric, cognitive and sensory impairments alone do not meet the criteria. The Transport Legislation (Disability Parking Permit Scheme) Amendment Bill 2019 recognises that this discriminates against those with a visual (sensory) impairment who are travelling as a passenger in a vehicle and that it is far safer and more convenient for a visually impaired person to have access to a disability parking space, typically near entrances to buildings. Throughout Australia, currently only NSW, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the ACT include vision-impairment in the Disability Parking Permit criteria. The proposed changes The amendments proposed by…
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What is the Shared Debt Recovery Scheme and how does it effect me as a Provider or Practice owner?

Summary The Medicare Shared Debt Recovery Scheme (Scheme) commenced on 1 July 2019.  Under the Scheme both the practitioner who provides a service using their Medicare provider number (Provider) and another party, which is usually their employer/practice owner (Practice), can be responsible for repaying debts resulting from incorrect claiming of Medicare benefits. This is called a ‘Shared Debt Determination’. Default percentages for the Provider (65%) and Practice (35%) apply unless the circumstances support a different share of the debt (eg. The Practice may have to pay a higher portion of the debt if it has significant control over the billing process). How does it work? The Provider has primary responsibility for correct benefit claims as only they can confirm that the service has been delivered according to the Medicare Benefits Schedule.…
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What should I consider when buying a new dental practice?

As published in the ADAQ Dental Mirror Spring 2019 edition. Buying a dental practice is complex and involves legal, financial and operational investigation of the business. This process is called “due diligence” and helps you work out whether the practice is a solid investment.  An experienced health lawyer can help you understand any legal risks and provide strategies to manage them. This article provides an overview of legal due diligence process when buying a dental practice in Queensland.  A follow on article will cover the steps leading from due diligence onto settlement where you take over the practice, including negotiating the sale contract.  For each step, we outline what it is and why it’s important to you. Step 1: Summary of the transaction – Heads of Agreement This is a…
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What does the workers’ compensation amendment Bill mean for my practice?

Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 Queensland’s Workers' Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 (WCR Act) establishes a workers' compensation scheme for Queensland, providing benefits following workplace injuries or fatalities, and requiring employers to be covered against related liability either under a WorkCover insurance policy or under a licence as a self-insurer. An independent review has recently been undertaken to assess the effectiveness of the scheme and its current rehabilitation and return to work programs. This review proposed a number of changes to the WCR Act, which are currently being considered by the Queensland Parliament. In this article our health business lawyers summarise the changes most relevant to health practice owners and what they mean for you. (a) WorkCover funded prevention initiatives The Bill proposes that WorkCover be given…
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Why does my practice need an Employee Policy and Procedure Manual?

As an employer there are a range of processes your employees and contractors will need to follow to ensure high quality patient care and maintain the professional reputation of your practice. While it may seem sensible to address this in an employment contract, we recommend you instead maintain a separate policy and procedure manual. But why do I need a separate manual? The purpose of policies and procedures is to set the consistent standard of behaviour you expect of all staff and to provide information staff will require to work safely in your practice. Therefore, you may need to rely on your policies and procedures to manage poor performance, terminate employment, defend a staff claim for workplace injury or defend a negligence claim from a patient. As a contract is…
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How many NDIS participants are in my local area?

Have you ever wanted to know how many NDIS participants reside in your local area to help understand the projected demand for your services? The NDIS Demand Map is an interactive tool that can provide information about NDIS participants in your local area to help you grow your health care practice. The map provides a forecast of the NDIS demand by 2023 for all postcodes across Australia. An estimate of the following information is available through the tool: How many NDIS participants are expected to live in the post code – broken down by type, such as physical disability, autism, neurological disorder; How much funding will be available to participants to spend in the area – broken down by category, such as therapy, capital, early childhood supports; and How many…
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How much can I charge Pathology and Imaging providers to lease within my practice?

Why do I need to read this? If your health practice leases an area to pathology and radiology providers, you need to be aware of the Australian Government regulations that apply to these arrangements. These regulations are designed to prevent conflicts of interest, which might cause practitioners to refer excessively. Significant penalties apply for any breaches of the regulations and we want you to be protected. These leasing arrangements usually involve GPs, however the regulations apply to anyone who can request or provide Medicare-eligible investigations (eg. specialists, dentists, podiatrists, physiotherapists, osteopaths, chiropractors, nurse practitioners). If you need any advice from our specialist health lawyers on this topic, please get in contact here. What does this mean for me? The legislation that affects the contractual arrangements between you and the pathology/radiology…
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