Is your behavioral health business ready to grow? Do you have the tools to support scaling your practice with technology?
Increased demand for mental health treatment makes this an excellent time for practice owners to consider scaling up, whether that means opening new locations, hiring more staff, or widening their treatment offerings.
For the modern health practice, technology will play a central role in your scale-up. Keep in mind that software and other tech solutions are tools. That means you need to know how to use them. Wielded properly, these tech tools can support the tried-and-true growth strategies that have helped practices just like yours to expand.
Here are five strategies for scaling a practice with technology.
1. Develop a Business Plan
A business plan lays out your practice goals and helps you understand how to reach them. It empowers you and/or your staff to prioritize your time and resources. It also educates you about competitors and your niche in the marketplace.
Key components of a business plan
- Market research
- Goals and KPIs for your practice
- Competitor research
- A plan for daily operations and caseload
- Marketing plan
Leveraging technology for business planning
Reporting features within your EHR are useful for planning your mental health business strategy because of the high-level view they give of your work. They reveal trends in patient demographics, common diagnoses, and your treatment success for specific populations and disorders. These things will shape how you market yourself and how you improve your practice performance.
Critically, your reporting features will determine the kinds of KPIs you’re able to track. Securing a software solution with robust reporting is important.
2. Focus on the Patient Experience
The patient experience always has and always will be the foundation of practice success. Happy patients continue to seek treatment from you, while unhappy patients likely look elsewhere. Happy patients boost your reputation, while unhappy patients can sink it.
Key components of an exceptional patient experience
- Fast and efficient intake process
- Affordability (insurance, payment plans, etc.)
- Easy scheduling
- Quality treatment with positive results
- Easy communication with provider and practice staff
- Easy prescriptions
- A warm and caring atmosphere from staff/providers
Leveraging technology to enhance the patient experience
Technology serves a dual purpose within the patient experience: it grants patients more agency in handling their interactions with you, and it frees up employee time to focus on patients.
Your clients will appreciate the ability to fill out forms, complete treatment “homework,” make payments, and update their records online at their leisure. A good patient portal solution can make it happen. This will reduce phone calls to your office, which cuts down on hold times. It also allows clients to complete these tasks outside of your business hours.
Scheduling is a major client touchpoint that should be as friction-free as possible. Double-booking and phone tag can be a thing of the past with good scheduling software. It syncs all practice calendars in real time, and some systems allow patients to request appointments online rather than through your front desk.
Reporting features are useful for the patient experience when used to track patient outcomes. You can gauge your overall treatment success, adjust your approach to certain patients or diagnoses, and hopefully spot providers who aren’t delivering adequate results.
3. Streamline Practice Management with Your EHR
As we’ve seen, when a practice operates smoothly, patients have a better experience. A streamlined workflow enables you to handle a larger roster of clients in the same amount of time. Having efficient and standardized processes is one of the best growth strategies your practice can pursue.
Key components of streamlined practice management
- Efficient intake
- Easy scheduling
- Quick payment processing
- Orderly billing and claims tracking
- Standardized forms
- Rapid treatment documentation
- Frictionless prescription orders
Leveraging technology for practice management
Automation is the name of the game in modern practice management. Today’s software can automate tasks that the last generation of mental health providers could only dream of offloading.
Software can speed up the intake process: filling out forms, checking benefits, and scheduling. Billing software will keep your finances organized and allow you to track claims more easily, increasing your reimbursement. Software can even dispense with some of the busywork of clinical documentation, through auto-generating options and features that allow you to carry info over from previous notes.
Software works best to streamline your processes if you can complete all or most of your daily tasks within one system. You won’t waste time switching logins, fighting to integrate different programs, or searching for information on other systems.
Leveraging EHRs for value-based care
As value-based care grows in popularity within behavioral health, it will be more important than ever for tech solutions to make value-based care simple.
EHRs like Valant offer support for outcome measures directly within the software, allowing providers to automatically send, receive, score, and record outcome measures for each patient. The result is exceptional insight into patient progress without increased administrative burdens.
4. Invest in Marketing and Branding
Marketing your practice may feel like an entire job in and of itself, but it’s imperative to success. If your treatment is working, patients will eventually graduate from therapy, leaving you with a hole in your schedule that needs filling. Keeping a stable of prospective patients is the best way to maintain revenue, and marketing is the best way to maintain that stable.
Key components of successful marketing and branding
- Identify your practice’s strengths and weaknesses
- Identify your target audience (market research)
- An SEO-optimized web site with information about your practice’s offerings
- A patient engagement strategy—blogs, social media, prospective patient management, patient communications, and appointment reminders between sessions
- Positive online reviews
- Networking with referral sources, your community, and other practice owners/providers
Leveraging technology for marketing and branding
You can use technology during the market research phase as well as the active phase of your marketing strategy.
During the research phase, you’ll use reporting on patient outcomes and provider productivity to identify your practice’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as understand the common diagnoses presenting in your patient population.
Your patient engagement strategy is another place where automation can really shine. The right software can automate communications with prospective patients, appointment reminders, and other communiques with your regular clients. It gives you the chance to establish a consistent brand voice across communications, and keeps patients engaged with your practice even when you and your staff are busy with other tasks.
5. Use Telehealth – Scaling Your Practice with Technology
Once viewed with skepticism by the behavioral health industry, telehealth has taken over in just a few short years. Today, if you don’t use telehealth, you risk falling behind the competition and limiting your growth. Digital treatment makes it possible to see more clients, since not all clients can physically reach your office on a regular basis.
Components of effective telehealth
- User-friendly and easy to access
- Option for paywall before starting sessions
- Interactive features
- Supports group therapy
- Provider controls all features
- HIPAA compliance
Examples of successful telehealth implementation
Ideally, telehealth will be part of a system that patients and providers are already familiar with—think all-in-one software solutions that house the EHR, the patient portal, and other functions under one roof. This saves patients having to memorize an additional login and learn to navigate another program.
Joining an appointment should be easy via computer or mobile, and you’ll need options to send appointment links to guests. Telehealth meetings should have interactive features such as whiteboarding, attachment capabilities, screen sharing, and chat, while also allowing the therapist to maintain ultimate control over all features.
Importantly, it should be designed to meet HIPAA requirements. Garden-variety video conferencing software won’t cut it when your patient’s personal medical information is on the line.
Ready to grow?
With a business and marketing plan in hand, tools for streamlining your work, and your focus firmly fixed on the patient experience, you’ll be poised to guide your behavioral health business through an exciting period of growth.
Technology will be one of your most important assets for scaling your practice. It frees you from busywork to allow you more productivity, and helps you keep up with modern expectations of convenience and superb customer service.
If you’re looking for one software solution to support every facet of your growth plan, consider Valant. Our all-in-one solution was built by behavioral health providers, for behavioral health providers, and is tailored to the ins and outs of daily life in a behavioral health practice. We offer exceptional automation capabilities, customizable reporting, a user-friendly and convenient patient portal, integrated telehealth, and so much more.