What comes to mind when you think about private practice? Perhaps a feeling of excitement, the potential for more income and increased control of your schedule? Maybe it’s the idea of focusing your caseload on a particular treatment need or population? Or perhaps it’s the freedom to deliver care in a way that makes sense to you without the red tape of a major healthcare system? Whatever your motivation, private practice can be a significant step in your professional journey. But what does it take to transform an idea to reality and how much does it cost to see that first patient?
In therapy, we often say “awareness is the first step”. When it comes to business, this is often a similar starting point. Awareness is the foundation for potential. It prepares us for what’s ahead to realistically determine if we are up for the challenge. In private practice, this includes things like legal responsibility, time allocation, financial resources and overhead costs. Ultimately it is up to us to weigh the risks and benefits and make a decision with the information we have.
Let’s begin with a traditional brick and mortar practice. Common overhead costs can include rent, utilities, furniture, décor, office supplies, phone, computer, note writing software, malpractice insurance, billing, marketing materials, commuting costs, etc. Depending on the clinician, there may be additional overhead costs including testing materials, scoring software, assessment tools, treatment manuals, etc. In a group practice, conversely, some of these operational costs might be covered with a business model where the practice keeps 30-40% of the session fee and the psychologist takes 60-70%. These rates vary geographically and by practice.
So how is telepsychology different? What are the overhead costs and what things should you keep an eye out for? In order to provide telepsychology, users need a webcam-enabled device and a HIPAA-compliant video platform. Be careful, not all video platforms are HIPAA-compliant. It is also recommended that a psychologist have a modern and professional looking website. In this day and age, digital presence matters and the quality of a website directly impacts people’s impressions. Other overhead costs can be similar to brick and mortar practice such as note writing software, billing, marketing and malpractice insurance however additional costs can include scheduling software, HIPAA-compliant secure messaging and credit card processing. With a telehealth model, you save money on rent, utilities, furniture, décor, office supplies, transportation costs, parking fees, and you can also save a significant amount of time commuting.
Today there are various telehealth infrastructures available to providers. Growing in popularity are companies that operate like online health centers where they provide certain telehealth infrastructure to connect patients and providers. Some examples include Talkspace, DrOnDemand and BetterHelp and each company has its own business model and operating procedures. When deciding if these options meet your needs, psychologists are encouraged to consider how much control they have regarding setting their rates, selecting their patients, making their own clinical decisions and setting their schedules. For example, many of these companies provide unlimited texting between patient and provider and require certain productivity outcomes. They also typically retain a larger percentage (50%+) of the session fee as well.
At Session Sync, our primary goal is to give psychologists the resources and control to run their own private practices. With no overhead costs, barriers are removed. A portion of each session fee is paid to Session Sync for operating costs. So what is the portion and what does it cover? For just 10% per session, psychologists receive numerous benefits including a personal profile page that functions like a mini-website, listing in the provider directory, online scheduling, HIPAA-compliant secure messaging, HIPAA-compliant video platform, basic note writing, billing, credit card processing, auto-pay and mass marketing efforts. Psychologists using Session Sync set their own rates, set their own schedule, select their own patients, make their own clinical decisions and there are no weekly hour totals that must be met.
Most psychologists don’t receive business training in graduate school and consequently feel intimidated to start or grow a practice on their own. Session Sync strives for psychologists to be psychologists while we take care of the logistics. In this modern era, we are fortunate to be able to reach people and share our services broader than ever before, and we want psychologists to have the confidence and ability to be part of this movement. Our telepsychology platform is specifically designed with you in mind, and we are here when you’re ready.