Provided by:  Jennifer Kirschenbaum, Esq.
 
August 17, 2021
 

Question

Dear Jennifer, 
 
I am preparing to retire.  Do you have any tips?

Thank you, 
Dr. P


 
Answer: 

 
Hi Dr. P, 

With no additional information, here are some basic tips to consider - 

  1. Consider selling - if you are looking to retire, if you can avoid closing the doors with no transition or monetary gain from a sale, do so, avoid it!  Look for a buyer; consider using a broker.  
  2. Premises - if you lease your location, check with your landlord whether you can get out of your lease.  if you own  your location, consider what you will do with the space once you are no longer using it. 
  3. Vendor contracts - same as your premises lease, confirm what contracts you have signed (copier maintenance, HVAC maintenance, supplies delivery contract, IT contract, marketing contract, etc.) and verify steps required for terminating same. 
  4. Staff - depending on the culture of your practice and your timeline, some staff will spook as soon as they hear the news and seek a new position immediately, or perhaps some or all may stay to help you close up shop.  You never can tell until you pull the trigger.  That being said, I do not recommend risking notifying staff too early because their natural reaction is for self-preservation and finding a new job, not assisting in your transition to retired.  Be mindful of your practice policies - have you agreed to pay out accrued vacation on termination? 
  5. Patients - 
    • abandonment - avoid abandoning patients by providing not less than 30 days written notice of your intention to retire.  Provide an option for them to pick up or receive their records.  Recommend a referred colleague or send them to their insurance carrier to find an in network person.  
    • record retention - even if you do not have a buyer, as per 1, attempt to find a colleague who agrees to enter into a custodianship agreement with you, whereby they will take over your HIPAA custodianship obligations.  Consideration could go either way here.  I prefer they pay you for the right to your patient records, and perhaps for you to send the good word out referring the transferee provider. 
    • Insurance participation - confirm your contractual notice requirement under your in-network provider arrangements (as applicable) and terminate in accordance therewith. 

Apart from the above, there are an impossible number of permutations of potential issues that crop up when you go to retire.  Happy to work through any/all.  I definitely encourage you to seek a practitioner to transition the patient records to; 6 years or 1 + majority, whichever is longer, is a long time to have to answer record requests (even if you do plan on doing so from your phone in Tahiti!)