Business Systems

Pros And Cons Of Group Practice (part 1)

A common private practice question is whether a therapist should join a group practice or venture out on their own as a solo practitioner. The answer is different for everyone depending on your strengths, goals, personality, financial needs, and many other factors.

There are also other options in between solo and group practice, like sharing an office space with other practitioners while maintaining your own practice. "There are numerous ways of forming a group practice including cost/office sharing, partnership, and employment as associates under a licensed provider," according to Kansas Psychologist Wes Crenshaw PhD, ABPP of Family Psychological Services, LLC.

To help make your decision easier, here are some of the benefits and drawbacks of joining a private practice group.

Benefits Of Joining A Group Practice

1) Established business systems

If you're considering joining an established practice, a huge benefit is that they already have office systems in place to support the practice. Michigan therapist Jacquelyn J. Tobey, MA, LLP of  Sollars and Associates says, “I have benefited from joining a group because many of the business practices such as marketing and billing are already established.”

2) Shared expenses and responsibilities

Sharing the costs of operating a business can be appealing. Therapists often underestimate the financial requirements when starting a private practice. Sharing operating costs, office space, equipment, marketing, and administrative expenses are just some of the benefits that North Carolina counselor Erika Myers, LPC enjoys about group practice.

Tobey has learned what it takes to run a business by first joining a group practice. She likens a group practice to renting a furnished room in a house that is already built, whereas private solo practice is more like  designing and building the house on your own. I think that is an excellent analogy.

3) Consultation and camaraderie

Meyers enjoys having colleagues to consult with on difficult cases as well as the camaraderie inherent in interacting regularly with colleagues. "The work we do can be isolating, so having fellow professionals around can help you have more social contacts beyond the professional consultation," Meyers says.

Melissa J Templeton, MA, LPC, LMFT compares working in a group setting to a good relationship. “Like a good marriage, it is the ‘fit’ of the various personalities that determines whether the cohabitation is going to work and work well,” shares Templeton.

4) Referral sources

Illinois counselor Melanie Dillon, LCPC, at Center For Wellness, Inc values the internal referrals generated within her multidisciplinary practice.

My business partners are both chiropractors. One provides acupuncture/Chinese medicine and the other chiropractic care/sports medicine. We have also employed a massage therapist. This way we have created a system that supports internal referrals. The other benefit is that all expenses are now shared, and that my income is no longer dependent on how many clients I see, but on the group as a whole.

Now that you have a feel for the benefits of joining a private practice group, check back later this week for part 2 - the drawbacks of group practice.

(c) Can Stock Photo From your experience, what are the benefits of joining a private practice group?

6 Ways To Put Your Practice On Autopilot

Ready to Fly? All you really need is just another shot...

Whether you like it or not, when you're in private practice you are a business person. A common complaint I hear from new private practitioners is "I had no idea how much time (and money) it takes to run a business!" I nod my head in agreement.

With no business background, I ventured into private practice nearly 10 years ago. Starting out as a solo practitioner, I have learned how to maximize my time. Over the years I learned the importance of automating as many business systems as possible in order to decreases stress, and free up mental and emotional energy for the things I'd rather be therapy.

Here are 6 suggestions for automating your business systems in private practice:

1) Automate social media posts

While actual human conversation is the point of social media, I do automate some of my posts, tweets and status updates. The two social media management platforms I use are Hootsuite and Socialoomph. I use both because they have different strengths. Hootsuite allows me to manage multiple social media accounts from it's dashboard and respond to them in one place. SocialOomph is great for posting recurring tweets and updates because you can set the frequency of the recurrence and alter the text slightly.

I also use SocialOomph to set up auto-responders to thank new Twitter followers. SocialOomph also sends me daily digest email of keywords I've chosen to follow on Twitter so I can see who's tweeting about relevant topics and I can find new and interesting people to follow.

2) Switch to electronic health records

This year my clinic switched to online health records. One of the benefits has been that clients can log in, fill out initial paperwork and submit it online. Best of all they can print their own statements to send in to their health insurance company to seek reimbursement, which saves my office a lot of time and money.

3) Try an online scheduler

While I don't use an online scheduler, I know that many therapists do. Clients can book, cancel, reschedule their sessions online. Many programs also send automated appointment reminder emails to clients so they don't forget about their therapy appointment.

4) Schedule blog posts

If you have a blog on your practice website (which I certainly hope you do by now), set aside some time each week, or each month to crank out several posts and have them waiting in the queue. In the Wordpress platform that I use I can schedule the exact date and time that the post will publish. I have a least one post scheduled per week for the next four months on my practice website.

Another helpful tool is to set an editorial calendar for your blog so you know what topics you want to cover each week throughout the year. You may want to schedule them around certain holidays or national mental health awareness days. With your calendar set you can plan ahead for your topics and get them in the queue and off your mind. (This post was scheduled ahead of time.)

5) Automate your newsletter

Several months ago I switched e-newsletter services to Aweber. One main reason is that you can set up automated newsletters based on your blog posts. Basically, I set up the template, set the number of blog posts I want sent in each newsletter, and when it gets to that number of new blog posts, it automatically sends an e-newsletter to subscribers with blog post summaries!

Another cool automation feature is that I have set it to automatically send it out on Twitter and post on Facebook, too. It has saved me and my office manager several hours per month formatting the monthly newsletter. If you sign up for my Private Practice Toolbox newsletter below you'll see first hand what I'm talking about.

6) Set up auto bill pay

Finally, instead of writing checks for rent, water cooler service, cleaning service, web hosting, or any other recurring expense, set up automatic bill pay so you can mentally take those expenses off of your "to do" list.

What have you done to automate business systems in your private practice? I'd love to hear your tips!

Creative Commons License photo credit: williamcho