After working for a Local Health Board for seven years, Rebecca James decided she finally felt confident enough to pursue her dream of starting a private practice.
After finding a quaint, central office space, Rebecca opened her practice expecting to spend the rest of her career in the "happily ever after." Working the hours she wanted with clients in the fields she was passionate. After having met Rebecca, we thought it would be a great idea to capture (via Carepatron's Video calling, of course) her story. To better understand what enabled her to transform from a self-proclaimed, clueless clinician to a proud private practice nerd. We hope by sharing this Rebecca's story, we can help you avoid the mistakes she made and take the plunge into starting up your practice with the tools to ensure your success.
Oh gosh, that's an excellent question. The interesting thing was that initially (the first couple of months), it felt like my practice was going fine. I managed client appointments with phone calls, texting, and emails. I used Word and paper files to keep client notes and struggled through the billing and invoicing on my own with Freshbooks. Everything was busy, and I was a bit tired, but I thought this was just a teething period, and my processes would become more streamlined as time went on. Little did I know that with each client I added to my caseload (this happened gradually for me as I accepted referrals from my past colleagues working at the Heath Board), my precious time was becoming more and more scarce. I was becoming more stressed, and as a result, my personal and professional life was beginning to suffer.
I considered hiring someone to do my administration work, but I realized that in addition to the other bills I needed to pay to keep the healthcare business operating, I would hardly be running at a profit. This was soul-destroying for me! I considered admitting defeat and going back to my old role but I didn't want to do this to the clients on my caseload with whom I felt responsible, so I started to do my research and realized that I had come at this whole starting my own practice thing from the wrong direction.
Starting a practice is the same as being an entrepreneur in any other field. You can't just open your door and expect everything to work out. I should have put more thought into the fact that I need to lay the proper foundations for my clinical and business processes. I genuinely believe the issues that forced me to rethink my business were there from the start. It's just that as my time became more scarce, they amplified until I was unable to manage anymore.
Ah, that one is easy. I started actively thinking about the business side of my practice and how I could improve it to reduce my workload without reducing the number of clients I could help, not at a price that would bankrupt me. I know what every healthcare practitioner here reading this site will think at this point "well, that's not going to happen". At my age, that's what I thought too. Being unfamiliar and largely uninterested in technology, I was completely unaware of the untapped resources available. That's when an old colleague suggested I try a practice management software. Initially, I thought he referred to something like the clunky, confusing, and time-consuming programs we used in my old role. All I could think of was the countless times I wanted to tip my long black all over the keyboard in frustration. My colleague quickly wiped this image from my head and told me I should look online and see what's available that would suit me. At this point, I was open to anything, so I half-heartedly started browsing online, not expecting to come across anything useful. That's when I came across Carepatron.
It made me go from actively disliking the administration and business side of my work to enjoying it. I never thought I would say this, but when I am using Carepatron, I feel so productive I don't mind doing tasks that aren't client-facing. In fact, on a hectic day with clients, I find it calming, almost like cooking in a beautiful new kitchen (that is for those who enjoy cooking)! Everything has its place, it's intuitive, and it makes me more efficient. Now I find myself with enough time to calmly complete all my administration, see all my clients and even have room for some more! I recommend Carepatron to all my colleagues and, well, to anyone that will listen. It has literally turned my 4 hours of administration per day into 1, and I am well and truly a practice nerd!
Well, firstly, the thing that I love the most and that meant I could put it to use was the fact that it's a free practice management solution. I wouldn't have been able to start using it otherwise. As a solo practitioner, this will be super helpful as I doubt I am the only person in this position.
Second, to that is the voice-to-text transcription tool. I can type, but slowly, I used to write notes by hand in session and then painstakingly type any critical documents or letters up for my clients. I found this frustrating, but I can even take notes while I am on the move with their medical transcription software- just making some edits later on. This is great because it means I don't run out of time to write down my client's progress notes.
My other favorite tool is billing and payment automation. The worst part of starting up my practice was sending invoices and bills to clients. I felt that this impacted my ability to build rapport and confidence in myself. I have found having this aspect of my practice automated is an enormous relief. There are loads of things I like; I would give Carepatron 5 stars if I could. Honestly, give it a try!
You're more than welcome! Thank you!