Writing for the Private Practice Toolbox blog, Julie Hanks states that the best advice for those looking to start up their own healthcare practice is from those who have been there and done that.
1. Private Practice is a Business
Whether you’re starting a counselling private practice or a physiotherapy practice, it is fundamental to understand that when it comes to selling your services, you will be exposed to the same pressures as any other business. You need to have a clear idea of costs and profits, and not underestimate the time you may need to invest to be a success. Spending time away from clients and on administrative duties may be absolutely unavoidable in the initial stages, so understand exactly where your strengths lie, and if you need any assistance running your business.
2. Understand Managed Care
Opening yourself up to private clients may also bring with it the challenges of dealing with different types of payments, including those from health insurance. Reimbursements may differ between different providers, so you will need to have an understanding of this, and you may have to alter your pricing structure accordingly.
3. Hone your Marketing Skills
Even if you’re not naturally good at marketing, practice and reading up on the subject is imperative in getting yourself known. One good idea is to develop a niche for yourself that you are knowledgeable about, and attempt to connect with clients in this area. Take advantage of both online and offline tactics, making sure that you have a website and social media profiles, and you take advantage of any speaking or networking events.
4. Stay on Top of Billing
Cashflow is the lifeblood of your business, so you need to keep on top of your incoming and outgoing payments. Private practice software that allows electronic billing can streamline the process and let you keep on top of your finances easily.
5. Your Practice will Ebb and Flow
Referrals into your practice may change unexpectedly in response to external hidden factors. You need to discern whether any falls in business are due to things outside of your control (i.e. holidays or weather), or whether it is due to problems that you need to address (i.e. pricing or reputation). It may take some time to identify these patterns (if there are any), but ensure you have budgeted properly, and try not to let it worry you too much.
6. Solo Work can be Isolating
Working alone in the initial stages of your practice may mean that you do not benefit from social interaction with your peers. The transition to private practice often means a loss of built in professional support system, and you may therefore need to actively seek social interaction and professional consultation.
7. Set Boundaries
It may be tempting when you start-up to let clients contact you 24/7, and to bend over backwards to accommodate their needs. As time goes by, it may becomes increasingly difficult to maintain this level of support as your practice grows. If you are able to put healthy boundaries in place from the get go, it will be much easier to maintain a professional and sensible schedule going forwards.
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