Do you feel like your systems and processes within your group practice are complicated? I hear from a lot of therapist/owners that they have a system for this, a process for that, but when they look at their organization as a whole is looks messy and difficult to explain. What’s happened is that as most group practice owners grow they change things one at a time, and so their systems are sort of seperate entities functioning on their own.
The best thing I’ve seen in owning a group practice is my level of relaxation increase when my group practice finally had a nice, simplified system in place.
So without further ado, here are my 5 tips to simplifying your group practice and increasing your happiness as a group owner.
1. Consider an EHR that integrates billing, accounting, scheduling and notes. There are many options out there, and you can check this out for feedback on most of the EHR systems out there. Do you need to submit claims? Do you want ERAs to be sent directly to your EHR system? Do you want text or email appointment notifications to clients? Do you want certain reports to generate? Do you want to hold credit cards on file? Do you want to have a patient portal for clients to make appointments? These are all things to consider when looking into EHR systems.
2. Are you doing a lot of work that someone else can do? This is a toughy for a lot of clinicians. Remember investing more yields more income. So. Are you still taking intake calls for the practice? Do you need to hire an in house receptionist? A virtual assistant? Take a look at all that you are doing besides business work and seeing clients, and hand it off! Let’s say your rate is $150. Anything you are doing that you wouldn’t pay someone $150 for hire someone else to do, and use that time to see clients and make money. Your time is worth something!
3. What is the process in place for new clients? Write out the steps that are taken-from when a client calls (who gets the call and how is that sent to the scheduled clinician) to when the client actually sees the clinician for the first session. Is there a way to simplify this?
Here is an example of my group practice’s process before simplifying: Client called and spoke to me (I did intakes), then I scheduled, emailed the clinician I scheduled the client with AND my in house billing person the appointment time and insurance info, I put the info into my EHR system that we used for notes and scheduling, my biller put that info into Office Ally for billing, the client was either emailed the intake paperwork if they gave an email or I directed them to our website to print, or they filled it out in office (whoa, this is getting complicated), the clinician scanned the paperwork into our EHR system, gave our biller the credit card on file form and insurance card, and then at the end of the day filled out a form to give to our biller with the clients they saw, the CPT code they used, and diagnosis, so that our biller could send claims in Office Ally. That is a LOT of steps and NOT simple.
This is how we do it now, after looking at how complicated our system was. I invested more into the practice by using our EHR system that we had for notes and scheduling and added the billing feature (it costs a couple hundred dollars more, since what we were using for billing (Office Ally) was free. BUT, it cut out giving info to our biller, since she was able to do the billing right in our existing system. So, now I have an intake person who schedules, emails that clinician to notify them of new appointment and we do notes and billing right in there. The intake person directs clients to our intake papers online. No extra paperwork. Credit cards are stored in the system. Simplified.
4. Look at your expenses. Every six months I look at all my expenses as ask myself if these feel like investments towards my group practice. If they don’t feel like investments, cut them loose. If something is working for you, ask yourself if investing more would help.
5. Do you have a manual for your staff on policies and practice procedures? I hear often that practice owners don’t have a manual of any kind, and they instead teach new clinicians their group’s procedures in a meeting(s) and by email. Practice owners complain of clinician mistakes and bombardment of emails with questions. Although this takes time initially, it simplifies your role as a business owner when you have a manual that explains your group’s procedures and policies, so that they have something to look at when they have questions. Also, I don’t know about you, but I don’t know how many times I have forgotten to explain certain steps to clinicians because I have been doing them so long. A manual covers these holes in communication.
There are so many ways you can simplify your practice organization so that you have more time to do important things (or fun things!) AND it helps your clinicians.
ACTION ITEM: Start by looking at your practice’s procedure for new clients and simplify!
Maureen Werrbach is a psychotherapist, group practice owner and group practice coach. Learn more about her coaching services here: LEARN MORE HERE