Key Principles For Assessing Practice Value
- Volume 21 - Issue 12 - December 2008
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When it comes to purchasing a podiatry practice, there are a variety of factors that one must consider in evaluating the worth of the practice. Assessing the value of a practice is fraught with potential landmines if one does not go into the process with a strong understanding of some key principles to medical practice valuation.
According to the Dictionary of Health Economics and Finance, practice valuation is the “formal process of determining the worth of healthcare or other medical business entity at a specific point in time and the act or process of determining fair market value.” Fair market value is defined as “ … the price at which a willing buyer will buy and a willing seller will sell an asset in an open free market with full disclosure.”
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Revenue Ruling 59-60 clearly states that fair market value “is essentially a future prophecy and must be based on facts available at the required date of appraisal.”
Unfortunately, one cannot directly observe the value of a medical or podiatry practice as there are a number of underlying issues. Obviously, the buyer and seller are pursuing oppositive objectives, and this reality is not necessarily conducive to facilitating clarity on those issues.
Accordingly, let us consider a few mistakes that are commonly made by physicians who are considering the purchase of a medical practice.
A Guide To The Myths And Realities Of Medical Practice Valuation
• Valuations are material representations providing a range of transferable worth.
• Valuations are reproducible estimates based on economic assumptions.
• Valuations are not “back of the envelope multiples” using specious benchmarks.
• Valuations are defensible and should be “signed off” by the completing firm attesting to origination guidelines and in accordance with the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) and IRS formats as needed.
• Financial accounting value (book value) is not fair market value.
• Professional valuators represent only one party. The buyer or seller-owner is the client.
• Unbiased valuators do not provide financing or equity participation schemes.
Knowing The Distinctions Among Engagement Types
The Institute of Medical Business Advisors uses three levels that approximate engagement types for the industry. These levels are comprehensive valuation, limited valuation and ad-hoc valuation.
A comprehensive valuation is an extensive service designed to provide an unambiguous opinion of the value range. It is supported by all procedures that valuators deem relevant with mandatory onsite review. This gold standard is suitable for contentious situations like divorce, partnership dissolution, estate planning and gifting, etc. The written opinion of value is applicable for litigation support activities like depositions and trial. It is also useful for external reporting to bankers, investors, the public and IRS, etc.
A limited valuation lacks additional suggested USPAP procedures. It is considered to be an “agreed upon procedure,” which is used in circumstances in which the client is the only user. For example, one may use the limited valuation when updating a buy-sell agreement or when putting together a practice buy-in for a valued associate. This limited valuation would not be for external purposes. No onsite visit is needed. A formal opinion of value is not rendered.
An ad-hoc valuation is a low level engagement that provides a gross and non-specific approximation of value based on limited limited parameters or concerns by involved parties. Neither a written report nor an opinion of value is rendered.
The ad-hoc valuation is often used periodically as an internal organic growth/decline gauge.