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You Are a One-Person Practice, Now What?:
Practice Management Solutions For a Small Practice

Practice Management Solution and Tips for Busy psychotherapists

Director of Marketing
Vice President of Public Relations
Blogger & Web Content Author
Office Administrator
Chief Operations Officer

With all those jobs, who has time to be a Psychotherapist?


Given the fact that 99% of all psychotherapists are not trained CPAs and business experts, how do you perform all of these essential tasks and still see clients during the day? Well, maybe you shouldn't.  There are many tools and practice management solutions available to psychotherapists to help streamline and systemize the work involved in building and running a practice, the implementation of which can dramatically decrease your workload and corresponding stress level.  Here are a few tips on how to manage all those hats:

Marketing and Public Relations:  This might just be your most important first step.  Now that you have “built it,” you may have quickly learned that this does not necessarily mean that “they will come.”  There are so many resources online to help you learn about dozens of marketing ideas and concepts, but the time involved to sift through it all may dissuade you from their full implementation.  To properly market your practice, you may want to consider building your own search engine optimized website, spreading the word with social media, becoming a speaker at your association events, establishing a strong referral network, offering your expertise on local radio and TV talk shows, signing up for online directories, and getting started with insurance (or not).   The great news is that you don't have to do it all alone.  There are experts that have taken their own private practice experiences and rolled their successes into marketing programs to help you launch an efficient practice from the outset.  These programs will teach you about different marketing and P.R. tools with step-by-step, concrete ideas about how to put your plan into action.  While the programs do usually have a moderate cost involved, such cost is often quickly off-set by the dramatic increase in practice growth, particularly when compared with practices that fail to implement the methods suggested by said programs.  Remember, these coaches are only sharing their successful marketing campaigns and ideas.  Think about how much time and money they spent filtering out the campaigns that didn't yield new clients.  Here are a few practice coaches that come highly recommended by some of your fellow practitioners:

Be a Wealthy Therapist with Casey Truffo - Practice Coaching and Mentoring
ZynnyMe - Technology Business Coaching
Elizabeth Doherty Thomas -Web Marketing Consultant
Juliet Austin - Marketing Coach and Copywriter
Julie de Azevedo Hanks - Private Practice Business Consultant
Barbara Griswold - Navigating the Insurance Maze

Blogger & Web Content Author:  Although this is actually a sub-category of marketing, you don't need someone to help you with this task.  You may have sought the help of your coaches on how to best set up your website and a blog, but writing the content of your blog and website should be in your own voice.  This area of marketing is where you can be yourself, writing on topics that you are passionate about.  Thus, your first concern is your subject matter; what topics do you clients find pertinent, and what topics do they want to read about on a daily or weekly basis?   How much, or how little, content should you have on your website?  Do a Google search for blogging and website content ideas, and remember that you don't have to just search for ideas regarding psychotherapy practices.  Take a look at topics that other professionals blog about.  The internet is full of ideas to help you write dynamic content that will make your website define who you are and keep your blog pages full every week.

Accountant:  There are many options for management of your practice’s finances, whether you choose to hire an accountant to completely handle all of the financial aspects of your practice, you want to obtain certain tools and personally handle the financial aspects of your business, or you want to employ a combination of these approaches.

  • Doing it yourself is possible when you choose the right practice management solution and combine it with an accounts payable system, like QuickBooks.  Look for comprehensive client accounting features in your practice management system that allow you to balance your client financials, instantly prepare client statements and superbills, and have integrated payment features, like credit card processing and electronic insurance claim submission.  For tracking your expenses, use a simple system like QuickBooks to balance your income and expenses every month.  Then, all you have to do is hand over your income-based, auto-generated reports from your practice management system along with your expense reports from accounting software to your tax preparer at the end of the year!
  • If your practice’s income level affords the option, you can engage an accountant and billing service. This obviates the need to obtain do-it-yourself accounting software like QuickBooks, and allows you to focus on other business aspects while your billing service handles collections, invoicing, and insurance claims.
  • Another option is to employ a combined approach, whereby you personally track revenue with your practice management solution, and you have your accountant spend just a few hours each month cataloging your expenses. This allows you to spend more time focusing on your clients without incurring excessive accounting expenses that could actually be cost-prohibitive.   

Office Administrator:  If you are already wearing the Office Administrator hat, then you know how much time you are spending on administrative tasks, and you also know how many of these tasks go ignored as you attempt to focus on the myriad responsibilities associated with running a practice and, oh yeah, providing quality services for your clients. Simply put, you must find ways to streamline these tasks, or you will find yourself drowning in paperwork and data entry, not to mention missed income opportunities.  So, what are your options?  First, make a list of every administrative task that needs to get done:  entering new client data, setting appointments, rescheduling appointments, maintaining client paperwork and intake files, client appointment-reminder calls, making changes to client demographic information, following up on past-due client payments, preparing and mailing insurance claims, and processing client payments.  Next, look to create systems that decrease how much time you are spending on these activities.  Here are a few systemization ideas that you can integrate into your business to reduce the time you spend on administrative tasks:

  • Entering new client data:  have your clients complete their own digital profiles.
  • Setting appointments:  Find a web-based scheduler that clients can access to set their own appointments.
  • Rescheduling appointments:  Make sure your web-based scheduling software has the capability for clients to reschedule their own appointments.
  • Maintaining client paperwork and intake files:  Digitize all of your client paperwork and intake forms.  Eliminate paper completely with electronic forms that your clients can complete online and ahead of their initial appointment.  Scan and upload of any paper documents you receive for your clients. 
  • Client appointment-reminder calls:  Integrate automated appointment reminders.  Consider using today's popular technology, like email and text, as a way to help avoid Late Cancellation and No-Shows.
  • Making changes to client demographic information:  In the same way clients originally completed their own digital profiles, they can just as easily modify their profiles when they move, change a phone number, get a new email address, acquire new insurance, etc .  
  • Following up on past-due client payments:  Making it a policy to collect all payments/copay amounts at time of service will completely eliminate the need to prepare and send out client statements.  Imagine how much time and money you are saving by not having to mail out  an invoice, not to mention decreasing the amount of lost income you face with unpaid balances. 
  • Preparing and mailing insurance claims: Your ideal system will allow you to enter in your client information once and instantly print or electronically submit your insurance claim directly to your insurance payer.  Completing a CMS 1500 form by hand or visiting multiple insurance websites can take away hours of your time every week.  
  • Processing client payments in your accounting ledger:  This should not be a time-consuming, cumbersome task.  Your systems should instantly show balances due, allow you to apply a payment to your client ledger, and instantly produce a receipt in minutes while your clients waits the 90 seconds it takes to complete these steps.

Chief Operations Officer:  This is the one hat that should always stay on your head.  The good news is that if you implement the right practice management solutions and systemize your marketing, blogging and web content writing, accounting, and administrative tasks, you will find that being your own COO will be that much easier!


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