Before you even hire someone for your group practice, you want to make sure that you have all your systems and processes in place. Why do I have to be so organized, you might ask? Because it will make your life 100 times easier after you hire your first clinician. Having to train someone on a system you haven’t yet created, or doing the training while you’re creating the system, is a recipe for feeling overwhelmed and chaotic.
What Kind of Systems?
As a solo practitioner, you don’t necessarily need systems in place, although they will help your practice run more efficiently. As a group practice owner, you absolutely need them if you don’t want to be doing everything yourself, and if you want things done a certain way consistently. There are many systems that you can create, here is a list of several that I use in my practice:
- Intake Process
- Payment Collections
- Clinical Documentation
- Hiring, Onboarding, and Training of Clinicians
- Clinician paychecks
- Team Communication/Meetings
- Clinical Supervision/Consultation
- Office Space Use
Each of these systems can be pretty involved and detailed. For example, to create an intake process, you’ll want to have a system that accounts for any way that a client reaches out to you (email, website contact form, phone) and what happens next. Do you call or email the client? Do you complete a phone pre-screen form? Can the clients book an appointment directly into your schedule? And then what happens once the appointment is set? How does the client complete the intake paperwork, how should they contact you, and by when, if they need to cancel, and how do you give them directions to your office or how to access an online video link for the session?
How to Document Systems
Every time I create a system, I always miss at least a few details or moving parts, so I know that each system I create is always ever-evolving and subject to change at any time. I suggest either writing down your systems in an easily accessible place, that both you and your clinicians can access, or doing a video about the system (or perhaps, both). If you have a virtual or in-house assistant, which I highly recommend, maybe writing down or doing videos of your system can be delegated to this person, along with any updating as needed. Depending on if you have 1099 Independent Contractors or W-9 Employees, you can create Employee Manuals or Employee Resources to hold your systems.
How Systems Help Your Professionalism
Creating processes and writing down or recording your systems before you hire your first clinician will save you headaches and stress during the hiring process. It also helps you look like you know what you’re doing, and increases the clinician’s confidence in you as a boss or manager. The more professional and organized your business is, the more efficient it is, freeing up time for you as the group owner to focus on tasks that only you can do.
Hopefully, by now you’re convinced that creating and writing down systems for how you do what you do is important enough that you’re starting to look at your own processes. Even better is if you’re able to do all of this prior to hiring your first clinician, or an administrative or virtual assistant. Doing this simple, yet oh so important, step now will save you much time in the future. All you need to do now is get started!
Shannon Heers is a licensed professional counselor in Colorado. She owns the private-pay group practice Catalyss Counseling in the Denver metro area, focusing on helping adults manage their anxiety, grief, and trauma. Shannon is also an experienced clinical supervisor and manager and is just starting to offer business consultation services to other therapists. She balances working with raising her two young children.