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Start Your Therapist Private Practice Correctly To Avoid Costly Mistakes

Many people start their education in counseling and psychology with the goal of owning a private practice. In a 2015 study, the American Psychological Association (APA), found that almost half of practicing psychologists were in private practice. But starting a therapist private practice is more than just opening your door to clients. It’s important to understand everything that’s involved before jumping in.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

The same APA study found that the older a psychologist was, the more likely they were to be in private practice. The benefits of experience are clear. Running a practice requires more than clinical acumen; you can avoid these costly mistakes at any age.

Starting without a business plan is one of the most expensive mistakes new practitioners can make. Decide how you will keep records, use assessments for measurement-based treatment, and see patients. Virtual visits can expand your client base, but doing early research into what to look for in a behavioral health EHR platform will pay off.

Another mistake to avoid is opening the door to your new practice before you have a financial plan. Be sure to include start-up costs like credentialing, malpractice insurance, and professional and business licenses. Where will you practice? Rent or even a mortgage should be added in, along with the purchase of any equipment for your new practice.

Set growth goals, including those that go beyond the long-term: How big do you eventually want the practice to be? Do you want to add other clinicians at some point? Expenses add up quickly, so consider what’s realistic in the immediate future. Sometimes, the best way for you to build up the necessary resources is by working at a hospital or clinic and starting small with your private practice. This can mean seeing a few patients on nights and weekends after your full-time job or working part-time at each job.

New private practitioners sometimes overlook the need to market themselves. Having an online presence, being on insurance panels, and doing community outreach are all excellent ways of getting your name to clients. Also, if you are newly licensed, consider contracting or working part-time somewhere to build your reputation. As you make a name for yourself professionally, your network for referrals will grow.

Time management is not as simple as it seems, especially when starting your own therapist private practice. Balancing administrative tasks with seeing patients, billing insurers, continuing education, and managing your money can get overwhelming at times. Hiring staff involves other expenses and business laws. Therefore, starting out right is imperative.

Consider using comprehensive practice management software like CarePaths to run your practice smoothly from the beginning. Advantages of this include online onboarding, form templates, online scheduling, a patient portal, and billing that’s synced with clinical records.

Like poor time management, running a disorganized clinic puts new practices at a disadvantage. It creates a poor image and experience for patients and is more stressful for practitioners. Losing income due to billing problems – timeliness, accuracy, and ensuring that each insurance company’s requirements are met – can set you back. While front-desk staff can help, you still need to find the right people, which may not be feasible at first. Again, a sophisticated practice management platform can be the answer you’re seeking.

Start Your Therapist Private Practice with the Right Tools

Some practices may start small in terms of tools, as practitioners think that they will simply expand when their caseloads get bigger. But doing this means they’re starting with a smaller billing system, and if they use an EHR system, it will typically just cover the basics of documentation. As their practices grow, they have to find various tools to fill the gaps, ultimately resulting in using several different platforms or services simultaneously or changing systems completely. Both they and their clients then must acclimate to a whole new platform, which creates an unnecessary learning curve.

Getting a comprehensive EHR platform integrated with practice management software means that your system will grow with your practice. This way, you can prioritize management from the start.

Many therapists focus on obtaining new clients when starting a new private practice and are less concerned with the processes of running their business. However, failing to prioritize the aspects of their practice beyond conducting psychotherapy is a mistake. Things like onboarding, intake, documentation, organization, patient communication, referral communication, scheduling, and billing are all integral. Otherwise, vital information and essential tasks can fall through the cracks.

That costs you money and time and makes your practice look less professional.

Always remember that administrative tasks are necessary for running your own private therapy practice. These include scheduling, messaging, billing, and communication with referrals. A sophisticated practice management platform can automate many of these processes and minimize the workload of others.

Knowing that potential clients receive caring, professional service from the first moment they contact your private practice will bring you invaluable peace of mind. A comprehensive EHR, like CarePaths, offers front-door capacities to collect initial patient information from demographic to billing. From there, the included patient portal gives patients access to scheduling, automatic appointment reminders, and the assessments you’ve selected for them. Canceled and changed appointments automatically show up on your calendar, so you are always up to date.

Therapy today often takes place online. An integrated EHR-practice management system creates a streamlined experience for both patients and professionals and avoids the confusion of using multiple video conferencing and messaging apps. Teletherapy through a platform like CarePaths also adds valuable flexibility for new private practitioners. For example, if you decide to start your practice while still working full-time, you can see patients virtually until you’re ready to move into an office.

Regardless of how you start seeing patients, make sure your new practice adheres to privacy standards and billing requirements. This can be as easy as using a comprehensive EHR platform that stays constantly updated with the most recent information.

Final Thoughts on Therapist Private Practice

While there are many considerations to make before starting a private therapist practice, there are also many benefits. Having more control over your work-life balance, the clients you see, and how you conduct sessions is appealing to many therapists. As with other businesses, it just takes a little time and research to start your practice right.

At CarePaths, we help therapists work more efficiently and empower them to manage their practice their way by offering online therapy services, online scheduling, appointment reminders, secure messaging, and more. Learn how we can help you get up and running fast. Start your free trial today!

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