“Scaling” is the goal of many business owners, including many behavioral health business owners. If you’ve considered hiring more providers, growing your client list, or opening new locations, you probably identify growth or scaling as a major goal. But it isn’t a simple goal to reach. If you want to enhance your work and increase profits, it’s time for a careful audit of existing factors at your mental health practice that affect scalability.
Scaling and Growing Your Behavioral Health Business—What’s the Difference?
The word “scaling” is used differently by different people. For our purposes, we identify scaling as distinct from “growth,” though the two concepts are related. Growth means expanding your resources and your output. Scaling, on the other hand, means expanding your output without significantly increasing your resources. In other words, scaling allows you to do more and/or see better results using the time and manpower that you already have.
For instance, hiring more staff in order to serve a larger patient population is growth. Using an EHR that allows existing staff to get more done is scaling, because you are not adding more staff—you are increasing the number of patients your existing staff can serve.
3 Tips to Audit Your Business Operations for Scaling
As you consider whether you’re ready to scale, focus on three key areas of your behavioral health practice.
1. Efficiency of Scheduling
To serve a larger client roster without a sizeable increase in staff, you’ll need a fast and efficient scheduling process. Creating appointments must be simple and intuitive, with staff and providers accessing the same calendar to prevent double-booking.
Some clinics expedite the scheduling process by offering an appointment request feature to patients online. Although staff may need to review and approve all requests, allowing patients to initiate the process cuts down on time-consuming phone calls with staff.
2. Organization and Record-Keeping
Organization can make or break your scaling efforts. As your client load grows, you must be able to handle records and billing quickly, without a large increase in time commitment for administrative tasks. You’ll need:
- Patient records that are easy to access and update
- A strong management system for prospective patients
- A billing process that allows you to easily track the creation, submission, and status of bills
- Speedy clinical documentation protocols
- Methods to track unfinished documentation
3. Patient Communication
You don’t want your raft of new patients to turn into a raft of time-consuming phone calls. To get more done, you’ll need a faster way to communicate, including some amount of automation.
You’ll need to contact patients with messages about appointment reminders, billing information, updating their records, and more. Much of this can be done through automated messages, particularly if you have a patient portal that supports this.
If you don’t have a patient portal, or if you have a clunky portal with low adoption rates from patients, you may need to address that before you try to scale.
How a Behavioral Health EHR System Could Help Scale Your Behavioral Health Business
An EHR system built specifically for behavioral health will include many of the efficiencies and automation options that you need to scale your private practice. By improving just one resource—your software—you can open up time and manpower for greater productivity.
Software integration is key, whether that means purchasing an all-in-one software or using an EHR that integrates easily with other solutions. Integration cuts down on the amount of manual data entry that you and/or your staff must manage, allowing you to accomplish other tasks with your time.
Here are the major areas you will audit before scaling, and how a behavioral health EHR can help.
You’ll want a scheduler that acts as a hub to navigate critical tasks like taking payments, viewing the patient chart and documentation, viewing billing charges, and auto-generating bills after treatment. Your EHR should keep every practitioner and staff member on one calendar, so no one double-books a session, but also offer calendar view flexibility. This will make booking faster in general by allowing you to search provider availability, schedule one-time or recurring individual and group appointments, and toggle between calendar views for providers, program types, by facility, and more.
Better Organization, Faster Billing
An all-in-one behavioral health EHR will save your billers time by auto-generating bills and highlighting unfinished documentation and other billing mistakes. It should also include safeguards to prevent accidentally submitting a bill with uncorrected mistakes. This will drastically reduce denied claims.
Look for the ability to track overdue and unpaid claims easily, rather than having to manually search outstanding bills.
First-class Patient Communication via the Patient Portal
Communicating directly through the patient portal improves your practice’s workflow and the patient experience. You should be able to set appointment reminders, billing reminders, and other types of communications to automatically deliver to patients.
You want a portal that gives patients a lot of control in managing their own data. This includes letting them update their demographics information and their financial payment preferences right in the portal. Use preference-based automated communications, and you’ll give patients an alternative to lengthy phone calls. This in turn gives staff more control over the tasks of patient communication.
Begin the Journey Towards Scaling
Auditing the existing processes and tools at your behavioral health practice will lay the groundwork for scaling your business. By identifying areas of improvement and maximizing existing capabilities, you can prepare to serve more clients, increase your revenue, and meet other scaling goals, without a massive expansion of resources. Choosing the right EHR is a crucial step in this endeavor.
To learn more about the role that software can play in this exciting and transformative journey, contact Valant and schedule a free demo.