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5 essentials to building a private behavioral health practice on a budget.

As with most professions, making that big next step can feel risky or even downright intimidating. Behavioral health care is certainly no different. Professionals of all experience levels consider opening a private practice from time to time, but without at least a basic understanding of the dynamics involved, the likelihood of success is uncertain.

For behavioral health professionals that have ever been curious about private practice ownership (even those on a budget), it may actually be more feasible than expected. The following are five tips for getting started.

1. Keep your day job

Behavioral healthcare providers on a budget need to treat the new practice as a supplementary source of income that they plan on growing into. Take clients during your usual off-hours, and gradually shoehorn them in around your existing work schedule. Build a strong enough client base so that it can stand in as a primary source of income before fully committing your time and energy to the practice.

2. Consider joining a group practice

Group practices offer a lot of benefits, particularly for the budget-minded behavioral healthcare professional. Renting a space as a group reduces overhead. Office expenses such as furniture, decorations, a receptionist, and an electronic health records system can be paid for collectively, making the costs less prohibitive. Additionally, group practices enable collaboration and consultation with other behavioral health professionals, provided any applicable HIPAA requirements are met.

3. Start small

The first space should be small and comfortable for two main reasons. Starting small ensures the practice doesn’t grow faster than its list of patients, but more importantly, patients often respond positively to the coziness of a practice.

4. Build a brand

A private practice isn’t simply an address and a phone number. The practice will need a logo to stand out and appear professional. Designing and printing will incur costs, but providing a recognizable and memorable form of business accreditation for consumers will result in returns over time. Apply your branding to your business cards, website, and any other customer-facing collateral or paperwork.

Click here to learn more about marketing fundamentals for private practices

5. Get an EHR

Electronic health records technology has come a long way, and paperless practices are more common now than they ever were. Through software automation, EHRs carry a lot of the administrative workload that has historically dug deeply into the provider’s time. Certain aspects of critical tasks such as scheduling, documentation, and billing can now be handled with a few clicks as opposed to hours of organizing, filing, and writing in notes and form fields by hand.

Making the move toward private practice ownership can be a little scary, particularly for providers on a budget. Having a basic understanding of the possible pathways to ownership will help make the provider’s aspirations become reality.