Starting your very own private practice is an exciting endeavor that a therapist should feel hopeful and eager to embark on. While this is an exhilarating step toward independence as a provider, there is still a great amount of work that has to be done in order for success to be achieved. While it would be nice if a therapist could just branch out on their own and immediately start accepting clients, there are some logistic and administrative responsibilities that need to take priority off the bat.
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It is important that your practice be a safe, welcoming, and functional atmosphere that leaves clients with positive feelings when they leave your office and your bottom line stable at the end of the day. So what all goes into starting a private practice? Therapists looking to go independent need to consider the following details. Doing so will ensure that a new practice is aligned for success as they grow.
Starting a Private Practice Involves:
Starting a private practice is expensive. There exists an abundance of details that will end up costing a new practice thousands of dollars. When starting a private practice there are a number of unavoidable expenses that a provider needs to be prepared for. Some of the most common startup expenses include things like:
- Website Cost – websites are essential for any new practice. This is where new clients will go to learn about you, get a feel for your organization, and potentially schedule appointments. A quality website requires a good investment so ensure you are starting off on a good foot.
- Office Space – will the practice accept patients in person or online? If a provider plans to house in-person visits they are going to need office space. That office space needs to be in a safe location that offers privacy for every client and is easy for people to get to.
- Staff – if a new practice plans on hiring staff members to work the front desk or hire other therapists to work with clients, they will need to be prepared to pay those individuals regardless of how many clients your practice is servicing.
- Insurance Panelling
- Software (scheduling, documentation, billing, etc.) – Your practice should consider investing in quality practice management software, telehealth software, billing software, and more if they want to run as efficiently as today’s top organizations.
- Recurring Costs/Memberships (Directories, Phone Services, Internet, etc.)
- and more
There are dozens of costs that providers need to make sure they can handle until their practice gets up and on its feet. Making sure all of their financial ducks are in a row will keep them from stumbling as they get up and running.
2. Business Responsibilities
Providers that are not familiar with the business aspects of starting a private practice need to get familiar. A whole new world of responsibilities is introduced when running an independent practice that does not exist when you are working for someone else. For example, providers will need to register their new practice as a business in their state. That business will be responsible for paying its own taxes each year, keeping the tax information of its employees logged and organized, and ensuring every detail is in order.
A chunk of time must be dedicated to marketing in order for a new practice to grow. Whether it is digital marketing or print marketing, each requires strategy and execution. For a small operation, this might mean creating social media accounts where people can find you online or getting advertising space in a local paper, billboard, or even a bench. Where a provider chooses to market their practice has an impact on what people are finding them, how potential new clients view practice, and how likely they are to contact them for new services.
There are plenty of paid and non-pain forms of marketing that can draw new clients in. For example, non-paid marketing tools include SEO, blog writing, and well-run social media accounts. Paid forms of marketing might include paid advertisements online or in print.
4. Building Your Client Base
Other than marketing, starting a private practice involves building your client base from the ground up. Providers who have a couple of clients that will follow them to their new practice are in a good spot. If not, those providers will have to hit the ground running and put in the work to bring in new clients and grow their practice.
5. Insurance Paneling
If a provider plans on accepting insurance, they need to go through the paneling process. Insurance paneling or “credentialing” is the process that payers require for a provider to bill through them. They assess and verify things like education, training, experience, and more in order to approve them to join their panel. Joining the Insurance panel can take anywhere from 60-120 days.
For providers who are not sure if they want to accept insurance, there are some things to consider. If a practice does not accept insurance or only accepts out-of-network insurance (insurance where a provider is not specifically credentialed), then different billing tools may be necessary.
For providers who want to use insurance but do not know where to start, they should consider what payers are popular in their area and are more likely to draw in patients as a result. Joining an insurance panel offers particular benefits like showing up on a client’s search for a provider.
Starting a private practice is extremely exciting. For providers who take their time and follow all the necessary steps, success will be on the horizon.