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How to Create a Business Plan for Your Behavioral Health Practice

When opening your own behavioral health practice, your business plan can make or break your practice. From your clinical approach to your administrative operations, a business plan should guide your decision-making in all aspects of your practice. Here’s how to get started:

Start small and go slow.

Launching your behavioral health practice is exciting, but shouldn’t be rushed. Start creating your business plan with a simple list, or search online for a business plan template to provide a little more structure.

Explore other practices to get some ideas and decide how you may (or may not) want to organize your own practice. Network with other behavioral health professionals, or consider taking local or online business classes or tutorials on different aspects of business ownership.

Plan your general business operations.

No matter the industry, every business plan should include several common elements:

• What products or services you offer
• Your legal structure (sole proprietorship, an LLC, or an S corporation)
• What other employees or partners you may hire
• How you will market your business
• What makes you different from competitors
• Your business goals and how you will measure success
• Obtaining additional financing, if necessary
• How to handle accounting
• What federal, state, or local licensing or permits are required
• What insurance (payroll, liability, etc.) is needed
• Your mission statement

Include the clinical aspect of your business.

Your business plan should also address questions unique to a behavioral health practice, including:

• Who are your clients (including age groups, demographics, or conditions)?
• Will you rent or buy a space, or work out of your home?
• What therapeutic approaches will you use?
• Do you need additional education or training?
• Will you partner or collaborate with other behavioral health providers, social service organizations, or hospitals?
• Will you offer telehealth?
• How will you handle documentation and client data?
• Will you use software solutions, such as accounting or an EHR?
• What will your rates and payment options be? What insurance will you accept?
• Will you join a referral network?
• How will you bill clients? How will you handle late or missed payments?
• What will your scheduling process be like?
• How will you handle a client that is not a good fit?
• Will you work with an accountant or an attorney?

Make your business plan your own.

You can personalize your business plan to address your personal work and productivity style. This part might help guide decisions like:

• Establishing and maintaining boundaries with clients
• When you will take lunch breaks
• Whether you have a mentor you can consult
• How much time you need between client sessions
• How you will stay motivated and disciplined
• How to respond to serious, negative feedback
• How much time you will dedicate to administrative tasks and how much on clinical tasks

The benefit of running your own practice is having the flexibility to change your operations. If you want to change your accounting software, marketing style, or work hours, you can! Your business plan should grow and evolve with you and your practice, so don’t worry about getting it perfect right away.

Your behavioral health business plan should address the type of software you use to make things easier for you. BestNotes EHR and CRM solutions, created for behavioral health and addiction treatment providers, can help you start your practice on the right track. Contact us today to learn more!

date:  Jun 02, 2020
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California Behavioral Health and Addiction Treatment News Roundup: May 2020

The ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic has had numerous effects on behavioral health, including illegal substance use, budgetary concerns, and the use of telehealth. Here, we take a look at some of the behavioral health and addiction treatment-related news specific to California.

Changing Opioid Supply Poses Additional Risks as COVID Restrictions Relax

Law enforcement officials and addiction experts say that the coronavirus pandemic and stay-at-home orders have changed the availability and prices of illegal opioids across the nation. Drug users may be at risk as they adjust to these changes.

For example, addiction specialists in Orange County, Calif., say that many clients have seen disruptions in their drug supplies due to travel restrictions. Although drug users obtained illegal opioids from other sources, the drugs provided by the new dealers would often have a different strength that caused more overdoses and fatalities.

Elinore McCance-Katz, head of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, also notes that many first responders are fearful of administering naloxone due to the possibility of COVID-19 exposure. The agency, she says, has begun to deploy training teams to help communities safely administer naloxone while managing exposure risk.

California Providers Receive $13M in Telehealth Grants From Health Net

Health Net of California, the state’s largest Medi-Cal managed care plan, is providing 138 grants, totaling $13.4 million, to help California healthcare providers expand telehealth programs for Medicaid recipients. Most of the money is intended for providers with limited or no telehealth infrastructure.

Specifically, the grants are aimed at addressing the increasing need for telemental health services. Funds will help develop and expand connected health platforms for Medicaid patients dealing with behavioral health concerns, including substance abuse.

California Governor Revises Budget Proposal

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has submitted a 2020-21 May revision of the state budget to the Legislature as part of an effort to close an expected budget gap of more than $54 billion due to the COVID-19 recession. Part of the proposed budget includes $1.3 billion to counties for health and human services programs, including behavioral health. The revision also proposes cutting an expansion of Medi-Cal to post-partum individuals diagnosed with a maternal mental health condition who are not otherwise covered.

New Study Looks at Screening, Intervention, and Referral for Substance Use in California Counties

New research shows that screening and brief intervention for unhealthy alcohol and other substance use may reduce the frequency of heavy drinking and stimulant use. Researchers compared Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT), a motivation-based brief intervention with personalized feedback, with a health education session.

This study included 718 adults in two mental health treatment systems in Ventura County and Los Angeles County in California. Study participants had a mental health diagnosis and were either heavy drinkers, cannabis users, or stimulant users. The full study has been published in Addiction.

Choosing the Right Tools for Your Practice

Behavioral health and addiction treatment providers in California will be addressing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic for months, and possibly years, into the future. Prepare for changes in demand, treatment approaches, and revenue with an EHR solution built specifically for behavioral health. Contact the team at BestNotes to learn how we can help you streamline your practice so you can improve patient outcomes, reduce stress, and increase revenue.

date:  May 28, 2020
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7 Best Practices for Telehealth in Behavioral Health

Telehealth has grown rapidly across the nation in recent months, opening up new options for behavioral health providers and clients. In the scramble to launch remote services, however, many best practices may be overlooked. If you’re a behavioral health provider that is implementing or considering a move to telehealth, here are some best practices to follow.

1. Set a goal for your telehealth program.

Think about how you want telehealth to benefit your practice and clients. Set specific goals and measurements of success. Your goals may involve revenue, client satisfaction or retention, reducing cancellations, or gaining new clients.

2. Keep all team members involved in your telehealth solution.

All behavioral health staff should understand the telehealth workflow and know how to use the software. If possible, launch a pilot program to help train clinicians and staff on the telehealth solution. This can help you identify any possible gaps in the workflow so they can be corrected before clients begin to use telehealth.

3. Partner with the appropriate vendor.

Your telehealth vendor should have experience with behavioral health and related privacy protections. Their solution should offer billing, scheduling, and e-prescribing options that can integrate with your existing EHR. Many practices have found success with less expensive, off-the-shelf software. Whatever solution you choose, however, it still must support HIPAA rules, and any other privacy or data protection concerns.

4. Familiarize yourself with federal and state requirements.

Consult state and federal laws before launching any remote behavioral health services. Laws may address issues such as billing, e-prescribing, and informed consent. For example, while some state programs have parity between telehealth and in-person services, other states have different rules for telehealth reimbursement. Seek the advice of an experienced attorney to ensure your telehealth services meet all state and federal requirements.

5. Consider pre-screening clients before they use telehealth.

While telehealth offers enormous benefits for both providers and clients, it may not always be the best solution for every client. To ensure the success of your telehealth program, consider evaluating clients before their first telehealth visit to determine whether they would be better served with an in-person appointment.

6. Market your telehealth services to your clients and community.

Some behavioral health or addiction treatment clients may be hesitant to use telehealth, while others may embrace it enthusiastically. In either case, your clients should know that remote visits are an option. Marketing possibilities include:

  • Update your website with telehealth information
  • Email announcements
  • Post signs in the office
  • Send messages through patient portals
  • Send brochures or other announcement to clients by mail

7. Maintain good communication with clients.

As a behavioral health provider, it is important to understand how to convey empathy on-screen. This includes maintaining a professional appearance during every telehealth visit with a client. The physical space should also be secure, have good lighting, and be free of clutter and other distractions.

Your behavioral health practice also must have, test, and maintain all the appropriate equipment, such as speakers and cameras, to minimize potential disruptions. The clinician should also prepare appropriately by reviewing the client’s history and chart before the start of the telehealth visit.

BestNotes EHR serves many behavioral health organizations that leverage cost-effective telehealth solutions, such as Zoom or GoToMeeting. To find out more about how we support telehealth programs, contact us today.

date:  May 14, 2020
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How Behavioral Health Providers Can Practice Self-Care While Addressing COVID-19

As a behavioral health provider, you may be gearing up for an increased demand for your services in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The stress of job loss, health anxiety, and depression from social distancing are all expected to take a mental health toll on the U.S. population.

At the same time, this increased demand will create stress and other health risks for providers and staff. Here is how behavioral health and addiction treatment providers can make sure they are taking care of themselves to stay at their best and prevent burnout.

Recognize the signs of provider stress and burnout

When promoting self-care and preventing burnout, it’s important to know what to avoid. Here are some signs and symptoms of burnout and overwork to look out for:

      • Physical symptoms, such as headaches, gastrointestinal issues, and more frequent colds due to reduced immunity
      • Difficulty sleeping
      • Increased mistakes at work
      • Feeling impatient, irritable, or angry
      • Reduced empathy
      • Intrusive imagery or dissociation
      • Impaired decision-making
      • Emotional hypersensitivity
      • Physical or emotional exhaustion
      • Strained relationships
      • Symptoms of depression, including feelings of hopelessness or thoughts of suicide

Preventing burnout and promoting self-care

Practicing self-care is as important for behavioral health clinicians and their staff as it is for their clients. While not everyone responds to the same self-care techniques, here are a few techniques:

Maintain appropriate home/work boundaries. This may mean you turn off your phone after a certain time of day, or do not answer work emails inside your home. If you are working from home during the pandemic, limit yourself to specific work hours. Boundaries between you and your clients are also critical. Determine your boundaries early on, and stay firm. Be compassionate without taking on your clients’ pain or solving problems for them.

Maintain social support. Invest in strong relationships, both outside of work and with your colleagues. Set aside time to keep up with friends and family members, especially those in your own household. See a therapist or mentor of your own to help cope with emotional stress.

Take some time off work. Taking time off may seem unrealistic, but this does not have to involve a two-week vacation. Other possibilities include taking an extra-long lunch break, keeping work hours flexible, or leaving work early. Set aside time for leisure activities.

As a clinician, you may not be able to control all the numerous risk factors that can contribute to stress and burnout. For example, early career status, personal history of trauma, and high empathy can increase the risk of burnout, but are difficult to control.

One thing that clinicians and behavioral health leaders can do is ensure that they and their staff have all the tools and training they need to do their jobs with excellence. This helps leaders delegate appropriately and keeps individuals from taking on too much.

In periods of high demand and high stress, the right clinical tools are vital in helping to promote the well-being of providers, staff, and clients. This includes an EHR system that offers easy implementation, reduced clicks, and thorough technical support. BestNotes EHR solutions have been created with clinicians in mind to help you do what you do best. Contact us to learn more.

date:  May 06, 2020
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How Behavioral Health Providers Can Prepare for an Increase in Trauma Treatment After COVID-19

With some data suggesting that the COVID-19 pandemic may be slowing down in the United States, the White House and several states have begun to discuss how to relax stay-at-home orders and reopen the economy.

However, the mental health effects of the pandemic and economic shutdowns could persist for weeks, months, and possibly years. This may increase the need for trauma-based therapy and strain the nation’s behavioral health and addiction treatment resources.

As society returns to a “new normal,” more behavioral health issues may arise. For example, parts of the nation are seeing increased alcohol consumption in quarantined households. Here are some ways behavioral health providers can prepare for an increased demand for trauma treatment.

Understand the potential sources of trauma

Hundreds of millions of Americans have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic in some way, directly or indirectly. Sources of trauma from the experience may include:

Severe illness and prolonged recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic
Experiencing a loved one who was ill or died from COVID-19
Fears over health services that have been rescheduled due to COVID-19
Job loss and resulting financial anxieties and identity struggles
Stress and anxiety from caring for loved ones or adjusting daily life during the pandemic
Depression from social isolation
Increase in domestic abuse during quarantine

Each of these situations may affect individuals in different ways, requiring a variety of approaches for treating any resulting trauma.

Understand best practices for treating trauma

Numerous evidence-based therapies have been developed to address trauma. Some of these include:

Each of these situations may affect individuals in different ways, requiring a variety of approaches for treating any resulting trauma.

Understand best practices for treating trauma.

Numerous evidence-based therapies have been developed to address trauma. Some of these include:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Exposure Therapy
Medications, such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs, usually combined with other types of therapy
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy
Narrative Exposure Therapy (NET)
Psychodynamic Trauma Therapy
Support groups

Consider obtaining trauma certification.

Not all behavioral health clinicians may have the training or experience to provide a full range of services for clients seeking trauma therapy. Continuing education credits or units can help prepare clinicians to deliver appropriate trauma-focused therapies.

Several organizations, such as the International Association of Trauma Professionals or the Trauma Institute & Child Trauma Institute, offer certifications to professionals who complete the required training in addressing trauma. The Epis Center at Penn State also offers trauma resources for therapists.

Recommend additional counseling for financial difficulties.

After restrictions have eased and the coronavirus pandemic has subsided, many behavioral health concerns will be associated with financial difficulties. An estimated 22 million U.S. workers have filed for unemployment due to business closures, tighter budgets, and changes in consumer demands and habits during the pandemic.

Behavioral health clinicians should become familiar with the financial or career counseling services available in their communities. Behavioral health providers may also consider a shift in their payment own methods to accommodate clients who have lost their insurance or cannot afford copays. This can prepare you to offer additional resources to clients who are struggling financially.

Get the right solutions to manage new clients and increased demand.

As a behavioral health provider, you use different treatment approaches for different clients and settings. Make sure your EHR solution is just as flexible.

BestNotes EHR solutions can be customized to your unique needs to help you save time, reduce frustration, improve profitability, and meet documentation and reporting requirements. Contact us today to learn more or schedule a demo.

date:  Apr 30, 2020
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