When you were in school, you decided that you were going to do something and make a difference. Now as a behavioral health provider you are able to actualize that goal every day that you see clients. Whether you are operating as part of a group or flying solo, chances are your focus on making a difference takes precedence in your day-to-day.
It might not be at the top of your mind that you are also a business. Your education was crucial, but this is one topic that was probably lacking from your curriculum. Setting up a practice means you are also running a business. Thoughtful consideration of a few items will help you in the long run.
Any successful business starts with a business plan. Identify your business goals and evaluate the current climate in the ‘market’ where you plan to set up shop:
- Is there a shortage of behavioral healthcare providers in your county?
- What challenges will you encounter?
- Are there unique state regulations governing your licensure and credentialing process?
- How will you let potential clients know that you exist?
- What you can do for them?
- Why should they want to see you?
Having a solid business plan will help you have a comprehensive view of all things to consider on your way to running a successful behavioral healthcare business.
Make sure you have a file prepared for all of your business documents
If you plan to contract with insurance companies or government programs like Medicare, keep a separate, dedicated file for that information. You should consider any piece of paper containing licensing information, EIN or TIN numbers for taxes, UBI numbers, business insurance, etc. to be a treasure, kept and cherished for the future. Yes, paper is still used to deliver important information, and you will handle a lot of it setting up a business.
Think about the office equipment you need
Not just for patient care (which probably doesn’t require much equipment) but to support the business. What type of computer hardware and software will you use? You’ll want to consider additional layers of security around your systems, beyond what you have at home.
Think you don’t need a fax machine?You might want to reconsider. Faxing is a secure method for exchange of PHI. And speaking of PHI, you’ll want to make your HIPAA policies and procedures are established and in place before you open your doors.
Finally, you’ll need to keep track of your accounts receivable (A/R) and accounts payable
Setting up transparent fee agreements with your clients the first time you see them ensures that everyone understands their financial responsibility when they receive your services. When needed, recognize that you might not have the time or energy required to devote to keeping your A/R in a healthy state. Consider the benefit of in-office administrative help or a billing service to help manage this part of your business.
These few considerations can help you maintain a successful business, one through which you get to realize your dreams of making a difference every day.