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Goal Setting in Private Practice (and How to Achieve Those Goals)

Private Practice Owner creating a list of goals for their private practice

For a long time, your main goal may have been starting a private practice. If you’ve reached this goal, congratulations! It’s a big step in your career and comes with a lot of unique challenges and rewards. Since we work exclusively with providers in private practice, we’ve seen our fair share of what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to running your private practice. Setting goals is one of the most important things that you can do for your practice, since it can help to drive a lot of the decisions you will need to make as part of running your own business. Here is our list of top questions that you can ask yourself when goal setting as a private practice owner, and a few tips on how you can achieve those goals!

Who are you hoping to help?

As a mental health practitioner, you are able to provide help to those who are struggling with their mental health. This is a passion itself, but do you have a narrower view of the population that you would like to serve? Maybe you would like to focus on a particular age group, such as children, young adults, or seniors. This can help you decide whether or not you would like to be credentialed with Medicaid or Medicare. Or perhaps you would like to have a practice that is specifically dedicated to women. You may want to consider this in your branding of your practice. If there is a specific passion that you would like to focus on, such as family therapy, addiction and substance abuse or care for veterans, you should establish this goal at the beginning of your practice. It may seem counterintuitive to narrow down your list of potential clients, but in the long run if you specialize your practice to the population that you want to serve it is easier for your clients to find you, and you get to focus on work that you love and are passionate about!

How many hours do you want to work?

Owning your own business can easily result in feeling like your work never stops, but it doesn’t have to be that way! If you set a goal for the number of hours that you would like to work, you can make choices for your business that allow you to achieve your goals. The number of hours that you would like to work is closely tied to the amount of income that you need to bring in to cover your expenses and ideally make a profit. For example, if you know that you want to work 30 hours a week, with monthly expenses of $3000, your work will need to bring in at least $25 an hour. Keep in mind that some of the hours that you are working will be dedicated to administrative work and not in session.

By setting financial goals and goals about how many hours you would like to spend per week working, you can make decisions about what standard rates to charge for sessions, whether or not insurance reimbursement rates are a good choice for your practice, or perhaps make decisions about which parts of your business that you would like to outsource. Many clinicians choose to outsource their billing (enter Practice Solutions) so that they can spend more time with their patients and less time on the phone with insurance companies, or they will hire an admin to help with scheduling and patient intake processes.

Having a clear goal of how many hours a week you would like to work can also help you in setting boundaries. It can be hard to know when to stop working when it’s your own business and you’re passionate about what you do. Setting these goals can help you stay accountable to yourself and prevent burnout that many therapists experience when working in private practice.

Do you hope to add clinicians to your practice?

There are therapists who enjoy owning their own practice and being the only clinician that is the face of the business, and there are also those therapists whose goal when they open a private practice is to eventually be able to employ other therapists and grow their practice. Both methods are perfectly viable! There are a few things that you should consider when you are deciding what you want your goals to be in this area. Firstly, think about whether or not you would like being a manager of other people. There is a lot of responsibility there, and it is not for everyone. There are plenty of providers who decide that they would prefer not to manage others and run their practice as an individual clinician with great success.

Secondly, you will need to think about how you credential your practice. If the goal is to be a group practice that employs other therapists, there are two ways that you can credential. The linked blog post goes into the advantages and disadvantages of each method, but essentially the options are to credential using a group NPI and tax ID and add clinicians to your group, or to have each clinician credentialed with their own NPI and tax ID. If your goal is to grow your practice to a group practice, making this decision from the start can help make sure that any insurance billing goes smoothly when you get to the point of adding on clinicians.

The final thing that you should consider when choosing what your goals are pertaining to adding clinicians is how you would go about managing paying your other clinicians. You may want to have them on a payroll, in which case you would need to think about what software you might want to invest in that would allow you to manage payroll later on. Many therapists think that they can utilize their EHR to manage payroll, and that is simply not the case. Thoroughly evaluating your software options from the beginning with your goals in mind can help ease the growing pains that would otherwise occur later in the development process.

Do you want to bill insurance or work with private pay clients?

If you have a clear picture of the first three goals that we mentioned, then you can use those goals to help decide whether or not insurance billing is right for you. Reimbursement rates may play a big factor in this if you are hoping to work fewer hours. If you would like to focus on a specific population who would likely need to pay for services using insurance benefits, then you should definitely consider credentialing and billing insurance claims. As we mentioned earlier, if you are wanting to grow to a group practice you will need to think about how clinicians in your practice get credentialed.

If insurance billing is a part of your goal and you are looking to outsource billing services, Practice Solutions could be a great choice for your practice. You would be able to develop a personal relationship with a billing specialist who would submit and follow up on all claims, providing eligibility and benefit checks, reports on your billing, and would be a general resource for your practice’s billing needs. If you would like to learn more about how Practice Solutions can help you achieve your goals, be sure to complete our contact form!

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