Episode 182: Assembling the Team You Need
WITH Melissa Wesner and Daniel Mayer of Protecting Your Practice
- Episode 182: Assembling the Team You Need 00:00
Hey Group Practice listeners! New podcast episode out today! In this episode, you’re getting a clip from this month’s expert training in the Exchange Membership where Melissa Wesner and Daniel Mayer of Protecting Your Practice talk about who you need on your team for group practice success.
In this episode we cover:
- When it’s time to hire an attorney
- The importance of an accountant/bookkeeper
- The role of an HR consultant
- Roles your practice may grow to need later on
This episode is sponsored by TherapyNotes. TherapyNotes is an EHR software that helps behavioral health professionals manage their practice with confidence and efficiency. I use TherapyNotes in my own group practice and love its amazing support team, billing features, and scheduling capabilities. It serves us well as a large group practice owner.
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Welcome back. Today you’re going to be hearing a clip from an expert training in The Exchange membership program. This specific training was with Melissa Wesner and Dan Mayer, of Protecting Your Practice. That’s the name of their company. And the training talked all about the things that you need to protect to your practice. Specifically, in this clip we’re going to be talking about or you’re going to hear them talking about how to assemble your team, your support team that people you need in your corner. So we’re not talking clinicians and admin, but a little bit more globally. And beyond that, like attorneys and accountants and an HR manager and such.
And so Dan Mayer, he’s an attorney and Melissa Wesner, she’s a group practice owner and they have business together called Protecting Your Practice where they’re essentially helping practices ensure that their practices are protected. So we’re going to be listening to this clip where Dan talks about assembling the team, that you need to be successful in your practice, and specifically your support team.
One of the things that I found valuable in the training itself and this clip particular was this emphasis on having a team that supports you, not your clinicians, not your administrative team. I think a lot of group practice owners will focus their time and energy on the short term goals, right of hiring staff growing their business, and they spend less emphasis or less time on some of the important pieces that might not look like they are providing you with value and income, but rather oftentimes costing you money. And a lot of practice owners will choose not to look at assembling their support team, because it costs them money and doesn’t feel like it’s bringing them in anything, and will in turn, try to take everything on themselves while hiring a team of clinicians and administration. And so I really enjoyed this particular clip because they talk about the why behind needing to have a team that can support you, outside of your clinicians and admin. So let’s take a listen to this. And we’ll circle back around after!
Now, we often talk about on protecting your podcast about getting your team. We’re going to talk a little bit about hiring. Obviously hiring staff and a little bit what I consider the the people who are hiring for your team inside your practice. Before we get to that point, though, it’s very important, especially if you’re looking to grow from a solo practice, to a group practice. When you make that jump, everything gets more complicated, right, there’s a lot more moving parts, there’s a lot more things happening. It’s not just a simple you in the practice now there’s a lot of other things you’re gonna have to Levers and controls you’re gonna have to be doing. So having people on the outside is as important sometimes as having who you have on the inside. So when I often tell clients as we talked about this, as you know, like I said a lot, is that it’s super important that you know who your team is on the outside because those are the people who are gonna help you make sure that you’re, you’re staying in compliance, that you’re doing things legally the right way. And, you know, like I said, going with this kind of theme, to me, I was thinking about this. And I thought, well, you know, if this is a journey, it’s, it’s a destination, right? It’s not a race. But it’s definitely something that you want to be doing this for a long time, presumably. So you need to make sure you have the ability to do that, right, like a race car, for example. They have teams, entire teams of people helping them. And so your practice also needs an entire team of people. So some of the ones that we talked about the most important ones initially, I think, are the ones that we have here, you know, an attorney, not a surprise, obviously, an accountant, an HR consultant. Those types of things, these three particular in my opinion, are critically important to your practice, if you’re looking to grow and expand and add employees, contractors and as it kind of gets more complicated.
Yeah, and we’ll talk a little bit more about each of those and why we think that they can be so helpful. And is it mentioned earlier, it might sound like a lot of information and a lot of things that you have to do before you get your group practice completely up and running. But really getting your team in place, and doing some of these things in advance is going to help you out so much in the long run.
You know, an attorney obviously is important in terms of making sure your documents are correct. We’re going to talk a little bit more about documents. In a short while, I guess I keep saying we’re going to talk about employees and contractors and stuff shortly. All those things have aspects that all have laws about them. Employment Law, labor, law, contractor law. Those are all things that are enshrined in state and federal laws. So no one’s expecting you to be a pro at this. You didn’t graduate from grad school, to become a lawyer. If you want to become a lawyer, you could, but you’re a clinician, no one’s expecting you to know the stuff inside and out. But you definitely, then you want to be consulting with someone who does. That’s why having an attorney is so important. Because not only, you know, a lot of practitioners will tell me oh, well, I don’t have an issue right now. And I’m like, that’s great. So now’s the perfect time when you should be focusing focusing on the stock, because it’s when it becomes an issue that it becomes 10 times more expensive to fix it and do what you should have done right the first time. Now it’s going to cost you more to do that and fix it and then get back on the right track. So consulting with an attorney when you’re implementing this stuff, or even before you do so, so they can help you guide you on how to implement it and what to do properly. That’s where, that’s when it is time to hire an attorney, not after something already happens.
An accountant is in same way, if you’re doing your own bookkeeping, you’re a sole practitioner, I still wouldn’t advise it, but you can do it. But the minute that you go make a decision to go into practice. Now you’re starting to add clinicians, whether it’s employees, especially if it’s employees, but contractors as well, you know, perhaps you’re bringing more clients, you bring more revenue. This is where you can get into tax trouble. This is where if you’re not following specific payroll tax rules, you know, so you know, making sure that you’re paying unemployment, making sure you’re paying workers comp, things like that, you can get a lot of trouble here. And it can really cost your practice could bankrupt your practice. So having an expert on your outside who’s on your team, such as an accountant, or bookkeeper or even a financial planner, can be really beneficial, and almost critical, I think, to your practice. You had, Melissa, I thought you had something.
I do but I know that we have some more on our other slides. So I’ll say a little bit more down the road.
Okay, so the other thing I’ll say is an HR consultant. Now, all the three here, right? I think initially, an attorney, and accountant are the most important. But I also think an HR consultant is really important. Again, if you’re going to be adding employees, you’re gonna be adding staff, if you’re going to be doing anything where you’re going to have employee handbook, an HR consultant is critical, because while an attorney can advise you on some of this stuff as well, what I often find is that the HR consultant, and the attorney will often work together. In fact, it’s not uncommon with my clients that the three of these that I’m part of a three, three, a group of three emails going back and forth to the client is kind of acting as an intermediary, kind of bringing all the information from all three of these people together to help them make informed decisions. And HR consultants gonna be able to tell you exactly what you should be implementing. How should your employee handbook look? What are the policies and procedures you should have in place?
Yeah, and I would just add–I was gonna wait but now I’m not–with the HR consultant, the other reason that I think they can be so helpful is is that if you are on The Exchange, no problem, if you’re on the Group Practice Exchange, you’ll see that there are so many questions that people have about compensation, compensation models, how much to pay, what benefits to offer, and it can be really confusing, and it can be really stressful. And so if you have an HR consultant as you’re starting to start a group practice, your HR consultant can be doing some market research to see what type of compensation is normal in your area, or customary in your area, to help you develop a pay structure that is really tailored to your particular practice. Because what one practice is doing might not necessarily be fitting for other practices. And so having an HR consultant can be really helpful for helping you do those things from the front.
And I know Dan and I did an interview with Julie Herres from Green Oak Accounting, and she had mentioned that one of the biggest mistakes practice owners make is paying people too much. So if you’re starting a group practice, you also have to think about your finances, and some of these things we’re talking about cost money. And we would encourage you to do that to get these people on your team because they’re a good investment. But if you start out with a pay, like a pay structure that is going to hurt your practice financially, you don’t want to do that from the beginning. So I think an HR consultant can be really helpful in that way for making these big decisions about finances and pay structure, because they’re really confusing. And that is not, that’s not our background, it’s not our training. And so that’s, I think, can be really helpful as you’re getting started.
And one of the things when you think about what an HR consultant does is they also help you prevent issues. Okay? You know, because inevitably, when you start bringing on staff, there is going to come a time where even if you are the best judge of character, and you bring on the best employees, and you bring on the best contractors, there’s going to be a person that’s not going to work out with or there’s going to be an issue arise or disciplinary matter needs to be handled. And in this area, particularly, you know, when it comes to termination, separation from employment, when it comes to disciplinary process and things like that, this is where there is a very easy line to cross, and then you are now doing things that are actually violation of the law. So making sure you do that right is so critical, because and this is again, where that kind of interplay between the HR consultant and lawyer come into place because, you know, the HR consultant can help advise you, and the attorney is going to be there to help make sure that you’re, you know, complying with the law here. Because if you don’t do right, if you terminate a contract wrong, if you fire an employee in the wrong way, and I want to be careful, I say that. But if you do it the wrong way, you are potentially opening yourself up to a legal challenge. There can be claims, you know, even if it’s difficult to prove of wrongful, termination, terminates, or contract, breach of contract, things like that. So those are areas you just don’t want to go into, and an HR consultant and an attorney in conjunction can often help you avoid those pitfalls.
There are a couple other areas, ones that I think people should consider. These are not as critically important. But as you grow, they may be ones that you really are going to want to look into. One is of course in marketing, web, social media team or person. Particularly as you start bringing on people you may need to bring in new clients. If you’re lucky, if you’re one of those ones who are lucky enough to have a waitlist great. But you want to be able to get your name out there. And it may be that you’re trying to expand your practice, you want to get that kind of name recognition to kind of present community is important to you. So a marketing person can really help you because in the same way that you went to school to do work as a practitioner, no one’s expecting you to be a master marketing person you can become that you can learn it. But even then there are people out there who this is literally what they do. And they can really help you give you some tips and tricks and help you with some guidance on ways to do things that you may not have thought of that could really benefit your practice.
A compliance specialist also is someone new, they, you know, they’re more like, you know, how do I do this act of compliance? How do I make sure that I’m having the right systems in place for HIPAA? How am I making sure that I’m doing everything securely as securely as possible?
Another one I don’t have listed on there just as it may be a tech person someone to help with your tech, your infrastructure, your internet, that type of thing.
Yeah, and I would just add that in terms of compliance, you might be wanting to think about a few things as a new group practice owner or as a group practice owner who’s really saying, you know what, it’s really time for me to fine tune some things, really thinking about HIPAA. Do we have our HIPAA policies and procedures in place, do I even know know how to get all of that information? And so if you’re not sure that you have the right systems in place, or policies and procedures, working with a specialist can be helpful there. Also, because as you bring new people into your practice, you’re going to want to make sure that the tools you’re using phone systems, email systems, are tools that are going to be good for compliance.
And also in terms of insurance, if you’re a practice that accepts insurance thinking about, do I, what system do I have in place for maybe doing chart audits or for making sure that the therapists at our office know the types of information that need to be in the chart to be compliant with a particular insurance company? So those are some things that you want to think about from the beginning, as you’re starting so you have some good systems in place.
All right, what did you guys think? So if you are a new group practice owner, and you are in the process of bringing on your first few clinicians, I want you to sit and think about who your assembled team of support people are? Do you have them in place? And if not, why? And what do you need to do to bring that first one or two support people on? Who, out of all of the support people do you feel like you could, you could use most right now? What’s important to you right in this moment and start there, start doing the research. Asking Facebook groups, I find that this is one of the very few things that Facebook groups are helpful for is referrals. And these Facebook groups you can find by word of mouth, resources and referrals, that you can then interview to see if they’re a good fit for you. So think about who you have in your corner. And if you have no one, think about out of all the support people what you’re lacking, most were your strengths. Don’t lie, and start focusing on that person first. If you do have a team of support people, what does that feel like for you? Have you evaluated and reevaluated who your support people are, and if they’re doing what you need from them, or if there’s any gaps in spaces that are missing? For me, the most recent–and it was about two years ago–gap was an HR support. And that was our last support. Consultants that we brought on in my own group practice was an HR consultants. So think about you know who it is that you have, what it is that they’re supporting, and if there are any gaps in the support, and in knowledge that you maybe don’t have. And take a look at where you might be able to bring someone else on to help you better lead your group practice. I’ll see you next week!
Thanks For Listening
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Group Practice Start Up Checklist
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For Illinois based group practices, Scott Hammer is one of the few attorneys in the country who focuses on the defense of mental health professionals in medical malpractice cases. In his current practice, Scott handles malpractice cases arising from suicides, alleged boundary violations, adverse reactions to medications, and breach of confidentiality claims. He has extensive experience and frequently represents mental health professionals in licensure matters before the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation and in ethics hearings before various professional associations’ ethics committees. He also provides counseling on risk management issues such as the duty to warn and has handled Medicare compliance audits as well.
PCT, helmed by Roy Huggins, LPC NCC, is your go-to on all things technology, ethics, teletherapy, and HIPAA in mental health group practice.
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- If you are starting a group practice, or have been running one for a long time, PCT can assist in optimizing your practice and cover your HIPAA bases.
* I am an affiliate for some of the businesses I recommend. These are companies that I use in my own group practice, and make recommendations based off of my experience with them. When you use some of these companies through my links, I receive compensation, which helps me continue to offer great free information on my podcast, blog, Facebook group, and website.
Meet your host
Maureen Werrbach is a psychotherapist, group practice owner and group practice coach. Learn more about her coaching services here:
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