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Welcome to your journey to open your own private practice in mental health! Some early keys to success are defining the vision and niche of your practice, rules and regulations for navigation, budgeting and creating a business plan. Next, you need to decide on an electronic health record (EHR) software platform. In this article, we will cover these basics about starting a personal practice and more.
- 1 Starting Your Own Private Practice
- 2 Starting A Private Counselling Practice: Checklist
Starting Your Own Private Practice
One of your first considerations is to identify the core expertise and target audience of your new behavioral health business. Consider what types of treatments you enjoy and are highly skilled in, as well as the needs of the community you will be serving. If you are already working as a physician, you probably know more than you realize about a potential niche and what services are needed in your community. Also keep in mind that depending on your situation, you may want to consider buying an existing gym rather than starting from scratch.
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Do not forget to consider the possibility of providing telehealth. This is one area where the right EHR can support your practice’s vision by helping to align your goals. The ability to offer virtual therapy sessions that are HIPAA compliant can be an important part of your niche. It’s also a great option to have even if you work in person.
Assuming you are already a licensed practitioner, one of the first steps to ensure you are ready to practice independently is to obtain your National Provider Identification (NPI) number. This process is completed through the federal government website. Your NPI number is a unique, 10-digit number that follows you throughout your life as a healthcare professional.
Protecting patient privacy is a fundamental matter that you should think about early and often. Practices that do not comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) can face fines and penalties, license restrictions and unhappy customers. Important HIPAA issues include protecting your computer and physical spaces, avoiding sending protected health information (PHI) through unsecured channels, keeping good records and having a plan for a potential breach. Most EHRs are designed to meet HIPAA compliance requirements, but it’s good to check how much support the software will provide.
Be aware of laws that may affect you, such as Florida’s new law requiring all PHI to be stored on computer servers in the United States or Canada.
Stay The Course
Comprehensive consent forms are an important requirement to protect patients’ rights and privacy. Your EHR should provide intake and assessment forms to help with this. This helps you sign up new patients for appointment reminders, provide PHI through the patient portal, retrieve medical records from previous providers, etc.
When you’re done, other basic aspects of starting a new business include obtaining an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. This is when you also decide whether to operate as a sole proprietorship or form a limited liability company (LLC) or S corporation, which can often be done online through your State Department’s website for a fee. Next, you’ll want to open a business checking account.
One of the first steps to opening your own private practice is to set your budget. You need to understand the startup costs and ongoing costs. These items can include fees for forming your LLC or other legal entity, various types of insurance, expenses related to office space (eg ), and technology. You must decide how to finance the initial costs, such as a loan of your own, a business loan or line of credit, or a joint venture with other partners. Most successful practices start small, with a physician founder who puts in long hours to keep costs down.
In the technology department, you need an EHR that fits your budget and supports your practice’s operations and revenue. Look for EHRs that can efficiently handle as many functions as possible, such as prospective patient management, scheduling, documentation, billing, reporting and telehealth, to reduce the cost of additional software.
Starting A Private Counselling Practice: Checklist
Build a solid foundation for your practice with a comprehensive business plan. Your business plan should include the previously mentioned items and go into more detail. Basically, it should answer basic questions like “what does my practice do?” “how do we do it?” “who are we doing it for?” and “what value does our practice bring?” Don’t forget to include parts of equipment and technology, front and back office, insurance and legal, organization chart, marketing and expected initial revenue minus expenses. We’ve created a fillable PDF business plan template that can help.
Also, don’t forget to decide which insurance panels (if any) you want to apply to, as the process can take several months but can be a valuable resource for patient referrals. These applications may require you to provide a resume with work history, an IRS W-9 form, proof of malpractice insurance, and details of any professional disciplinary actions taken against you. You will want to take the time to research this.
To stand out in the market, you want to develop your own unique brand identity. This includes establishing an online presence with a professional website, getting clients through referrals and word of mouth, and may include marketing your practice through free social media pages and posts, paid digital ads, email ads, etc.
A good EHR can help improve your marketing efforts, especially if you focus on user-friendly features like a user-friendly patient portal. You always want to be clear about who you are as a practice and what you offer. Importantly, remember to make it easy for potential customers to contact you.
The Benefits Of Running Your Own Private Practice
What are the must-have EHR features for mental health professionals? For practice owners, we’ve found that must-haves often include automating intake and assessment, scheduling, documentation, billing, performance reporting and clinical reporting. When comparing EHR options, remember that the differences between custom EHRs and custom behavioral health can make a big difference. This is especially important for new practices looking to build a healthy behavioral health flow from start to finish.
What are the final steps before opening your practice as you prepare to launch? What? do you have all the above in order? A good way to check is through the hypothetical situation of a new patient. Imagine that a new patient has requested an appointment. Do you have everything in place to contact, schedule, complete and bill for their first session?
Expect there to be a learning curve. Slow it down and schedule patients to make sure the first few weeks and months are as smooth as possible. As a result, you will have more time and energy to focus on your new behavioral health business.
As you continue to build and grow your practice, you strive to expand your client base while maintaining quality assurance and improving results. For example, it facilitates the implementation of metrics-based care, which can help you become a better doctor, while also serving as valuable data for value-based care contracts with payers, which can improve your practice’s reimbursement rates and income. This is just one of many strategies. For more, please download our white paper with 20 key performance indicators (KPIs) for your growing private practice.
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Don’t forget to reflect on your journey as you embrace opportunities to build a personal practice. A good EHR can act as a partner, supporting your practice every step of the way. Today’s behavioral health practices are learning to successfully embrace technology, with their websites and EHRs to thrive. To learn more, book a live demo and let us show you how we can help improve your practice.
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The Grow Your Private Practice Show (podcast)
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