Nov 30, 2020
The shift to telehealth has just created a massive change for a lot of us in private practice. So this episode is all about diving into restructuring your practice. First, ask yourself why you started a private practice, and think about why you want to restructure your practice. Once you know why you can begin to focus on restructuring your workflow. Sometimes, certain aspects of your workflow can be made more straightforward; simple is always better. Stay tuned as I talk about restructuring your finances, increasing your rates, and giving your website a facelift.
When we think about our why - go back and think about why you wanted to go into private practice, to begin with. What motivates you to have a practice? For a lot of people, they want the autonomy that it brings. Also, it creates a more significant earning potential for us. So, why do you want to restructure your practice? Perhaps your systems and processes have become overly complicated. Maybe your stress levels continue to rise because of things within the practice that cause you a lot of headaches.
From the time that a new client contacts your practice, what takes place? One client is easy, but if you start getting ten clients a week, what’s the workflow around that? Who is in charge of the workflow? Map this out! The intake procedure should be simple for the client. Think about ways that you can make it easy. Now that everything is online, the process should be as user-friendly as possible. Plus, the process should also be easy for you as a clinician. In private practice, there is an overlap between the clinical and business sides. Keep those processes separate from each other. Having an electronic health record system will help you keep these things separate.
There are probably things in your workflow that you don’t need. Simple is always better. Writing session notes can be a massive headache for clinicians. Newer therapists will go into so much detail in their session notes. It will be an entire narrative of everything that took place in the session. This is something that you can cut back on. Progress notes are a reminder for you as a clinician of what you did in that session. If you have things that give you the theme of the session, then that should be documented.
Your progress notes should only take about five or ten minutes to complete. If they are taking longer than that, you need to streamline it more. People can get really backed up on client documentation. The Session Note Helper is a set of templates that I created. It uses an add-on called Form Publisher that is HIPAA secure. You can check off boxes about what you did in the session. Then, the Form Publisher will create a narrative based on what you checked on the form. You can find out more about the Session Note Helper here. I created this to make my workflow easier. Because it’s in a Google Doc format, I can just copy and paste what I wrote there into TherapyNotes.
One mistake that most people will make is looking at their bank account and thinking they don’t have to worry. You need to do a deeper dive into your profitability. Look at the profits at least once a quarter. Make sure that what you are bringing in is making a profit for yourself, and it’s sustainable. Look at your numbers and think about restructuring your payment system. Anytime there is a change in the pay system, it can be painful. However, once you rip the band-aid off, it can bring long-term benefits. If you will restructure how you pay your clinicians in a group practice, set a deadline for yourself. The first of the year is an excellent time to change things; it’s natural.
If you are insurance-based, look at those contracts and which ones are going to renew. You can set up a new fee structure if the contract is going to be up. There is a shortage of mental health providers. One of the things that are coming out of 2020 is insurance pay is going up. The first of the year is an excellent time to go up on your fees. Think about what a reasonable increase would be. Going up on your fees is one way to become more profitable. If you go up on your fees, there are a few ways to deal with current clients. You can raise your current client’s fees, or you can keep them at the current rate. There is no right or wrong way of doing this. The main thing is, you should be looking at your fees, making sure it’s increasing to keep up with inflation.
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Gordon is the person behind The Practice of Therapy Podcast & Blog. He is also President and Founder of Kingsport Counseling Associates, PLLC. He is a therapist, consultant, business mentor, trainer, and writer. PLEASE Subscribe to The Practice of Therapy Podcast wherever you listen to it. Follow us on Twitter @therapistlearn, and Pinterest, “Like” us on Facebook.