Charting a Path to Start a Successful Practice

A thriving behavioral healthcare business is within your reach, provided you have the right tools. Get started with best practices and troubleshooting strategies to set yourself on the path to success.

Starting Your New Practice

Guidance for Starting a Behavioral Health Practice

You don’t have to start from scratch. Gain valuable insights from experienced professionals who have successfully built a strong foundation for their behavioral health practices.


Develop Your Business Plan

Clarify your goals and develop a tangible plan to achieve them. A business plan might include your target market, the types of treatment modalities you plan to offer, the number of providers and staff you want to hire, your payer mix or credentialing plans, your budget, and your goals for growth. This plan will help you define what “success” looks like for your practice.

Plan Out Your Workflows

Prepare for the day-to-day reality of running a mental health practice. First, identify the clinical and admin tasks you’ll do every day, then map out the steps for each one. Decide who will own each of these processes, and document efficient, sustainable workflows for them.

Project Manage Your Practice Launch

You are the leader of your practice launch. Proactively develop a timeline and budget, and identify the resources you’ll need to get started. By building connections with referral sources and undertaking strategic marketing efforts, you can ensure a steady stream of clients ready for your opening day.

Shop for EHR Software

The right software can make practice management easier and your work more profitable, so give EHR shopping the attention it deserves. Ideally, shop for a solution that is designed specifically for behavioral health providers, and go into the process with a list of needed features already in mind.

Starting Your New Practice

Private Practice Business Plan Template

Learn the benefits of developing a private practice business plan and download a free template.

Common questions from others like you starting a new practice

What are the most important KPIs to help my business succeed?

We suggest monitoring client retention, client outcome measures, referral sources, payroll (if your practice will include multiple providers), and productivity at the practice and provider levels. These metrics will help you understand your practice’s strengths and weaknesses, and set goals for yourself.

Should I offer services on a cash pay or insurance-based model?

The decision of offering services on a cash-pay or insurance-based model depends on several factors. First, consider if you have the capacity to manage the claims submission, denials, and negotiations with insurance companies. Second, assess how many of your intended clients can afford mental healthcare without insurance, as offering private pay may limit your potential clientele. However, private pay may provide higher reimbursement for each appointment than insurance. Finally, weigh how much autonomy you need in your practice against other concerns. When you accept insurance, the insurance company has a say in how you treat each diagnosis, how many sessions are covered, and other details. It’s important to evaluate these factors and determine which model aligns with your practice goals and values. Offering both options can also provide flexibility for clients, but it’s important to ensure proper billing and documentation procedures are in place.

What do patients expect from a superbill?

Clients who self-pay may use superbills to seek reimbursement from their insurer. The client pays your practice the full service amount, you provide the superbill, and they deliver the superbill to their insurance provider and request reimbursement. The bill should contain detailed information about the patient, provider, appointment, and applicable medical billing codes. See our comprehensive list of superbill requirements.
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Do I need a website to start my practice?

While a website is obviously not a legal requirement to start practicing, it is advisable to have one from a business standpoint. Many prospective clients conduct online searches for mental health providers, and will review a provider’s website before they pick up the phone to make an appointment. In addition, referral sources may want to peruse your website and direct their patients to it. If you’re worried about the cost of designing an online space, keep in mind that effective sites needn’t be expensive. Many online services now offer simple design templates and website hosting for a fraction of the cost of professional designers.

Starting your New Practice

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