In training, psychiatrists are thoroughly educated on the mistakes to avoid in their clinical work. But it’s rare for a program to teach practice management skills. While not as serious as clinical mistakes, practice management mistakes can wreak havoc on your practice. Here are the five most common psychiatric practice management mistakes and how to avoid them.
1. Not Hiring the Right Staff
When you’re first starting your practice, you may be handling everything yourself. But as you grow, you’ll want to bring in help. Many private practice psychiatrists hire friends or family to help with marketing, billing, or accounting. And if you know someone with expertise in an area you need help in, this strategy can work well. But too often, hires are made simply based on familiarity. If someone you end up hiring isn’t suited for the work or isn’t knowledgable enough to do an effective job, you could lose valuable time and resources. Worse, if you’re hiring inadequate help with billing or accounting, you could end up missing out on reimbursements or failing to take advantage of tax deductions you’re entitled to.
Hiring can make or break your practice, so you’ll want to devote care to the hiring process. First, identify what you need help with. Aim to tackle one area at a time. Do you most need help with marketing? Billing? Financials? Next, do a proper candidate search. You may want to ask colleagues for referrals or post a listing on LinkedIn.
When hiring, it helps to have a basic understanding of the area of expertise you’re hiring for. Which leads us to our next mistake.
2. Not Being Strategic With Marketing
When you’re aiming to attract new clients or enter a new specialization, you’ll need to do some marketing. There are dozens of channels and hundreds of tactics you could use, so creating a plan of action can be overwhelming. Because of the sheer number of opportunities, many private practice psychiatrists simply try tactics that appeal to them personally or are recommended by general marketing experts online. But for marketing to be successful, it must be highly targeted. Otherwise, you’ll end up wasting a lot of money.
Identify Where Your Clients Are
To target your marketing, first decide what type of client you want to pursue. Do you want to work with adolescents or retirees struggling with the transition? Those who deal with PTSD or those with phobias? Once you’ve decided on your target clients, you’ll be able to identify where to reach them. What websites do they use? What publications do they read? What social media platforms do they visit? For example, if you’re targeting adolescents, you may find them on TikTok, while their parents may be on Facebook.
Get Listed in Professional Directories
Don’t forget to get your practice listed in professional directories like Psychology Today, Good Therapy, and PsychCentral. Because these directories rank high in the Google search results, prospective clients may find you there if you have a listing.
Build a Strong Website
Once a prospective client finds you on Google or a professional directory, they’ll want to find out what you specialize in and how you help your clients. They’ll also want to get a sense of your personality and therapy style. Be sure that your website clearly communicates the things prospective clients want to know.
Check out our free marketing resources for mental health professionals for more marketing tips.
3. Not Understanding Business Financials
Another common mistake is failing to understand how to do basic accounting and read financial reports. While you certainly don’t need to be an expert in this area, having a basic knowledge will help you be more confident in your hiring of a CPA or bookkeeper. If you do work with a CPA, you’ll be better able to communicate with them and understand key metrics that give you information on your practice’s financial health. You may want to take an introductory course on Udemy (or other platform) and become familiar with reading P&L statements and other financial reports.
4. Not Using Technology to Save Time
Running a private practice is time-consuming! Beyond working with clients, you have to market your business, keep up with billing, and ensure your cash flow is reliable. It’s easy to forget that technology can handle many details for you, even automating some of your processes. Don’t make the mistake of failing to take advantage of technology to help with appointment setting and reminders, billing, and more.
Learn more about how private practice software can help you streamline your practice management in this resource.
5. Not Setting Long-Term Goals for the Practice
It’s easy to get so caught up in the day-to-day that you forget to plan for the future. Many private practice psychiatrists allow their vision to languish by the wayside. Take time to think through your one-year goals, three-year goals, and five-year goals for your practice. Who do you want to be working with? What specializations do you want to pursue? Where do you want to practice? What are your lifestyle goals? How many hours do you want to work? What kind of flexibility do you need? Setting these goals and reviewing them periodically will help ensure you’re strategic with your growth.
Read Tips for Successful Psychiatric Practice Management for more guidance on how to improve your practice management.
Successful Psychiatric Practice Management
Running your own practice can be a highly rewarding endeavor. Just like any mission that’s worth setting out on, there will be pitfalls to avoid in the path. But knowing these common mistakes and having a plan to address them will give you confidence in your practice management.
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