I have successfully navigated my third month (first quarter) of having my own practice. Feel free to read my summary about the first and second months if you need a refresher, or if this is your first time encountering one of these posts. Overall, it was a very positive month. I experienced a lot of wins and ultimately I’m tasked with turning those advancements into positive outcomes.
Increase in Client Inquiries and Referrals
I’ve been surprised by the number of client contacts I’ve received within the past 30 days. My practice has typically averaged one prospective client contact per week. I believe that has now doubled, with most of those inquiries being received through Psychology Today alone. I’m very satisfied with that, considering I haven’t even started my marketing plan yet. Click here to listen to Practice of the Practice Podcast episode 171, which addresses tips for optimizing your Psychology Today profile.
In addition to Psychology Today, I’ve also received a fair amount of referrals from a pediatrician. I’m very thankful for that relationship and hope that we can continue to assist each other in serving our community. The school year just started where I live and I expect to see an uptick in referrals in the coming months.
I’m still fighting the good fight with the credentialing process. I finally got approved by one of the insurances I’ve been waiting on for a long time. That was a major win for me, and it definitely motivated me to continue working and following up with the other insurances until this process is complete. I really underestimated how long it would take to get authorized from these various insurance providers. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to begin the steps necessary for credentialing prior to starting your practice, especially if most of your revenue will derive from managed care. Thankfully, I expect to be fully credentialed with all the insurances I planned to be affiliated with by the end of the month.
As I continue to work and build my practice, I have severely neglected establishing an adequate method of handling billing and invoices. Because this directly yields to me making revenue, it’s becoming more and more important that I allocate resources towards learning to be more effective in this area. I’m not at the point where I want to hire a billing clerk, but I may consider taking a course or doing more research on my own. Although most of the issues I am incurring are due to lack of time, it would also be beneficial for me to devote more hours to learning the preferred billing process for each insurance. I believe I can utilize my practice management system for assistance, but again, I will need to find a moment to explore that option also. It will take time, energy, doing research, and making mistakes until I become proficient in this area and feel comfortable doing my own billing. I recommend reading Jeremy Zug’s Part 1 and Part 2 articles on “Building Your Billing Systems” for things to consider if you want to start billing insurance companies for your client’s services.
Creating and Improving My Operating Procedures
Organizations of all sizes should have a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to provide routine steps for how tasks should be completed within the company. It’s important to have SOPs generated early when building your business so it will be easier to onboard additional personnel in the future, such as a billing clerk, virtual assistant, new clinician(s), etc. SOPs show that your business is organized and there are systems in place for it to operate efficiently. My plan is to bring in more staff in the future. I’m currently in the process of improving and creating my business infrastructure. With that goal in mind, I hope to have some SOPs in place within the next 2-3 months. This isn’t mandatory for all practice owners, but it is highly recommended.
This was a very rewarding month. I think everything is in place for me to reach my immediate goals. As I said in my opening paragraph, it falls on me to make my practice successful. I’ve been waiting for things to align and that has finally happened. Now I need to spend my focus on marketing, billing and turning my business into a fully functional system. I’m very optimistic about what the next month has in store.
Michael Gilliard II was born and raised in Charleston, SC. He a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC) in Georgia. His private practice is named Ujima Counseling, Coaching, and Consulting. It is based on the Kwanzaa principle of Ujima which means “to build and maintain our community together and to make our brother’s and sister’s problems, our problems and to solve them together.” He is also working on experiences which integrate mental health and XR technology. Please contact him to learn more.