The education that I received at Palmer College of Chiropractic provided me the skills I needed to build my own practice and develop ChiroSpring practice management software. But despite the wealth of knowledge available in school, I’ve learned that experience is often the best teacher. And there are plenty of lessons that are taught outside of the classroom. For those preparing to start their own practice, there are a number of actions you can take to help make the process of getting started easier. Before you open your clinic doors for the first time, get started early with these five must-do activities.
Get Your Numbers – Before you treat your first patient, you’ll need to register for a few business identification numbers. Begin with an application for an Employer Identification Number (EIN), also sometimes referred to as a Federal Tax ID number. This unique identifier is used by the Federal Government and other agencies to specifically identify your practice, much like a Social Security Number is used to identify yourself. The IRS issues EINs, and you can register for one directly from their website at www.irs.gov. You’ll also want to request a National Provider Identification (NPI) number for both your practice (Organization NPI), and yourself (Provider NPI). The HIPAA act of 1996 mandated that unique identifiers be used to identify Organizations and Providers of health care services. These numbers will be used frequently on forms submitted to patients and insurance companies. NPI’s are distributed by the National Plan and Provider Enumeration System (NPPES) and can be requested from their website at https://nppes.cms.hhs.gov. Be sure to get these administrative requirements out of the way early. With so much required to start a practice, it’s easy to accidentally overlook crucial actions such as these registrations.
Get in-Network – If you plan to work with insurance companies, start the process of registering to be an in-network provider with every insurance company whose plans you’ll accept. Each insurance company has different requirements and these forms take a long time to fill-out, and even longer to get approved. Plan on giving yourself a couple of months to register your practice with these insurance companies before you expect to engage them. You’ll need to contact the various insurance companies to receive their specific requirements. So stay organized and make sure you meet all their individual requests.
Get Insured – Malpractice insurance is a must, and deciding which insurance provider and what coverage limits you’ll carry are critical. Different insurance companies will require you to be insured to certain coverage limits, so settling for less coverage may eliminate you from becoming an in-network provider in some cases. Take that into consideration when determining how much coverage you’ll need. Insurance premiums also tend to start lower, and increase the longer you’ve been in practice. Do your homework and make an informed decision regarding who will insure you and for how much.
Get a Quality Accountant – Currently you may only speak to an accountant once a year at tax-time. But once you open a practice, you’ll need to rely on an accountant much more heavily, and much more frequently. A good accountant can counsel you on how to calculate both your business taxes and employee payroll taxes if necessary. There are often federal and state income tax requirements, as well as both federal and state unemployment insurance payments that need to be made. Some payments and document filings need to be made monthly, others quarterly, and still others annually. Federal requirements are generally satisfied via the https://www.eftps.gov website. But each state has its own filing process. A qualified accountant can help take care of some of these complex and continuous requirements, allowing you to focus your time and energy on treating patients and growing your practice.
Get your Perfect Practice Management Software – Investing some time in finding the practice management software that is right for your clinic will save you an immense amount of time, money, and headaches in the long run. Using a comprehensive, user-friendly EHR software solution will maximize your efficiency and prevent you from having to hire additional staff members to manage all your processes. Before founding ChiroSpring practice management software, I learned the hard way that overcoming frustrating, inefficient software requires additional staff, which eventually costs a great deal more money than selecting a smarter software up-front. Your software should be smart, fast and effective to save money, minimize stress, and maximize your practice’s potential.
It can feel overwhelming sometimes, trying to meeting all the various requirements necessary to establish your own practice. But learning from experience, I know that starting early with these five actions can put you well on your way to a smoother, low-stress experience.
Dr. Chrissy Albery is a practicing chiropractic physician and founder of ChiroSpring practice management software. Learn more about ChiroSpring and the benefits of EHR software at www.chirospring.com.