Web site helps doctors find office mates
■ A New York ophthalmologist has developed an online site for physicians to find and advertise practice space to share.
By Pamela Lewis Dolan — Posted March 3, 2008
Making sidelines pay
Doctors who branched out beyond running their practice tell why they did it, how they did it, and what you should know before you do it.
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Name: Ari Weitzner, MD
Location: Brooklyn, N.Y.
Company: Share Medical Space LLC, which runs a Web site (link) where doctors can search for or list available office space to share with other doctors.
Annual revenue: There is no revenue right now. The Web site launched in October 2007. Dr. Weitzner said his initial goal was to make people aware of the site and to generate traffic, and so far the response has been "great." He plans to start charging for listings within a few months and might add advertising later.
Why he started the business: "As most doctors know, it is getting harder and harder to make ends meet. Reimbursement keeps falling and expenses keep going up," Dr. Weitzner said. There are days or times when most physicians have to leave their offices vacant either because they are in surgery or doing hospital rounds. "It's really insane to leave your office empty" when it could be generating revenue, he said.
His brother, who is an MBA, suggested he find someone to share his practice space, but he quickly learned there was no sure way to find a tenant. Dr. Weitzner ran classified ads and also relied on word of mouth, but it took several months to find someone. The idea of a Web site where physicians could find and advertise office-sharing arrangements occurred to him one day as he was stuck in traffic. On the site physicians can describe exactly what they need by location, specialty and amenities, and be matched with any doctor who fulfills their criteria.
Why he continues to practice: "I love to practice," Dr. Weitzner said. He also doesn't expect to make a fortune on the Web site, but maybe a decent supplementary income. "Even if I made a lot of money in this I would still continue to practice, but maybe I would drop some insurers," he said.
Words of wisdom: "You have to be very hands-on when starting your own business. You can't really delegate too much at least in the beginning because you know the business best, and no marketing professionals or anyone else knows it like you do.
"I imagine as the business grows you can delegate more," he said. But, "Make sure it develops the way you want it to develop."