How to Get Your Therapy Clinic Ready for 2021

We’ve told you before that we believe January is the most critical month for your therapy business. As we round out the most complicated year the industry has seen in awhile and get ready to welcome 2021, we cannot stress this enough.

At the start of the year, there is a chance to refresh the way your clinic operates. This January, here’s how to make sure your therapy practice not only recovers from a tough 2020, but thrives in 2021.

Types of Goals to Set for Your Therapy Clinic in 2021 

It’s important to think about all the factors involved in clinic ownership prior to setting goals. All the behind-the-scenes nitty gritty of the therapy business affects your bottom line. Following are just a few of the things you may not remember to consider before 2021 gets rolling: 

  • How many patients would you like to see this year? Per week, per month, and per provider?  
  • Are there any ways you could avoid lost revenue resulting from cancellations this year? 
  • How is your clinic administration working now that many appointments have transitioned to telehealth? Is it time for a new EMR
  • What do your therapists and other staff members need in order to feel more secure in their jobs, given the current state of the economy?
  • Have there been any credentialing delays due to the pandemic? Do you need to make any adjustments in assigning patients as a result, or use the holiday downtime to collect documentation from your providers?
  • Regarding business licensing and taxes, do you know who will take care of keeping these updated?
  • Have there been any procedural changes due to office closures, etc.? Do your staff training manuals need to be updated?
  • Is HIPAA compliance a priority and have you adjusted HIPAA training protocols for telehealth, if applicable?

Having specific and attainable goals in each of the above areas will help you assess what your therapy business achieves throughout the year.

Adjust to Patients’ Insurance Changes in January  

At the start of the year, it’s also crucial to review renewal of deductibles for those of your patients who have commercial insurance. Have you planned how this process will look for your clinic?

Furthermore, due to insurance changes, last year’s delays in processing claims, and patients’ financial hardship, cash flow may be tough in early 2021. Sometimes, patients are unaware of how their insurance contracts and fee schedules work. Insulate your practice from the negative effects of these circumstances by training your admin team and providers to remind patients to check on their policy’s details, such as authorizations remaining, their benefits etc. This way, everyone can avoid confusion, hours spent on the phone, and any balance disputes. 

Update Clinic Forms and New Safety Policies 

It’s important to begin 2021 with a review of clinic policies and required patient forms. If you’ve had to create new office policies due to the threat of Covid, it’s wise to have patients sign off on any updates to avoid conflict and excess liability. Make sure your Notice of Privacy Policy (NPP) is updated in your office and on your website.

Decide how new forms will be distributed and collected and how ongoing policies will be communicated to patients. Ensure that you are especially direct and consistent about delivering news to remote patients. They may not have the benefit of regular reminders in the form of reading signs in your office, etc. Will you start a regular email newsletter? Share updates on a social media account? Let your patients know the best way to keep in touch!

Review Internal Business Processes for Your Therapy Practice

Sometimes, we can get so focused on the patient-facing parts of the business that we forget to monitor the back end. The processes that aren’t so obvious to anyone who’s not a clinic owner are often the most essential, though. They include things like:

  • Authorization requests and filing 
  • Eligibility checks 
  • Collections 
  • Ongoing credentialing verification
  • Marketing and social media management

If you’ve had to cut back on full-time staff due to the current climate, how can you stay on top of the most important processes without sacrificing efficiency? Perhaps this year is the perfect time to enlist outside help from an experienced billing agency to take some of this off your plate.

Audit Your Practice’s Information Security Status 

We recommend using the beginning of the year to do a full technology audit: “Who has access to what?” is the most critical question to answer. If you’ve had any employees leave your practice in 2020, take time in this first month to ensure that they do not still have access to any residual systems or interfaces. These include hardware in your clinic and any web-based software that your therapists access from home. 

The first of the year is a good time to tick off the following tasks:

  • Complete your required Security Risk Analysis, which will identify all areas that may have potential areas of a breach.
  • Follow that up with your required Risk Mitigation Plan. 
  • Verify that any vendor you work with who may have access to any of your Protected Health Information (PHI) has a signed Business Associate Agreement. This agreement must contain the required HIPAA content regarding their liability. It must also attest they are and will continue to be HIPAA-compliant.

Review all technology solutions you’ve chosen for safety and data security as well. For example, check that your EMR and telehealth platform of choice is HIPAA-compliant and ensure that all devices on your office network are password-protected. 

Make January Your Therapy Clinic’s Most Organized Month 

In addition to reviewing the specific facets of business outlined above, we suggest conducting a general inventory of how you run your clinic. The particular pieces that are relevant to you will vary, depending upon your specialty, market, and business stage. There will be lots of external forces affecting your therapy business as the year gets rolling, so having a customized plan is a must in order to remain in control of your clinic’s direction.
For more advice on how to set and meet your therapy clinic’s 2021 resolutions with the use of an EMR with built-in telehealth, schedule a demo. We’ll show you how TheraPlan can make this year a true fresh start, despite all that’s going on around us.