How client acquisition as a therapy practice owner = being a salesperson

The Virtual Pediatric OT

Wait, what? I'm salesperson? Yep! Why is that? Because healthcare and even more specifically, insurance reimbursement have changed. Families now have bigger deductibles (thank you high deductible healthcare plans and HSAs) and higher co-pays. This is even more pronounced if you are a cash-pay practice. Client acquisition has become pretty complicated.

We have many many issues in healthcare and because of low pay and the “grass is greener” on the other side thoughts, I have seen more and more practices being launched. But is it? Did you realize when you opened that practice you were diving into sales? Have you ever had sales training?

Let me tell you my story. When I began my practice it was primarily early intervention and Medicaid clients. Phew. No co-pays! No collecting money from parents. It was awesome!

We have many many issues in healthcare and because of low pay and the “grass is greener” on the other side thoughts, I have seen more and more practices being launched. But is it? Did you realize when you opened that practice you were diving into sales? Have you ever had sales training?

Let me tell you my story. When I began my practice it was primarily early intervention and Medicaid clients. Phew. No co-pays! No collecting money from parents. It was awesome!

Then my husband started a nanny franchise. I was roped in to help. I agreed to be the “Family Placement Manager”. I said, “I'm good with families. I am good with matching people with therapists, I can do this.”

I got started and boy was I wrong! I quickly realized it was a SALES role! I had to convince families why they should use us to find their nannies.

Just like you do when you are contacted by a new therapy client. So many therapists want to start a new private practice or consulting or parent coaching. But they do not realize how much SALES is involved.

Therapy is also often seen as a luxury or an extra. Many families mistakenly believe that they can “do it themselves” with the information on the internet. To overcome this hurdle, it's essential to highlight the unique value and benefits your practice offers. Demonstrating your expertise, handling administrative procedures, and justifying the medical necessity of your services are all part of the sales process.

Don't want to do sales?

Most therapists run kicking and screaming from sales. I totally understand. What if you do not want to do sales at all?

Here are your options:

Have to have a practice where parents are not paying and you receive referrals!

As a therapy practice owner, you may be hesitant about the sales aspect of your role. If you perform early intervention services the parents will not pay and you will receive direct referrals.

Early Intervention

Early Intervention programs are designed to support children with developmental delays or disabilities in their early years. These programs often cover therapy services, making it an attractive option for therapy practice owners. By becoming an Early Intervention provider, you can receive reimbursement directly from these programs, eliminating the need for parents to pay out of pocket.

The benefits of working with Early Intervention include access to a broader client base, as many families who qualify for these programs may not have the means to afford therapy services otherwise. Additionally, Early Intervention programs usually have established billing and payment systems in place, streamlining the financial aspect of your practice.

Parents do not typically pay for Early Intervention services because these services are provided under a federal law called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). IDEA ensures that all children with disabilities, including developmental delays, have access to early intervention services from birth through their third birthday.

Under IDEA, early intervention services are considered a part of free and appropriate public education (FAPE) for children with disabilities. As a result, the responsibility for funding these services falls on the public education system, not the parents.

The funding for Early Intervention services is primarily provided through a combination of federal and state funds. The federal government provides grants to states to support their Early Intervention programs, while states also allocate funds to ensure the availability of these services. This funding structure allows eligible children and their families to receive necessary therapy services without incurring out-of-pocket expenses.

It's important to note that each state may have its own specific implementation of Early Intervention services, including eligibility criteria and service delivery models. These programs are typically administered by state agencies or departments responsible for early childhood development or education. Parents can contact their local Early Intervention program or state agency to learn more about the specific services and eligibility requirements in their area.

By providing Early Intervention services at no cost to parents, the intention is to ensure that children with developmental delays or disabilities receive the support they need during these crucial early years of their development. This early intervention can have a significant positive impact on their overall growth and future educational outcomes.

However, it's important to consider that reimbursement rates for Early Intervention services may be lower compared to private pay rates. This could impact your practice's revenue. Additionally, requirements and eligibility criteria vary by region, so it's crucial to research and understand the specific guidelines and procedures in your area. In some states, companies are required to bill a family's insurance company before the state for reimbursement.

Fewer Sales Because Parents do not Pay or Minimally

Medicaid

Medicaid is a government-funded healthcare program that provides coverage for individuals and families with low incomes. Becoming a Medicaid provider allows you to offer therapy services to eligible individuals and receive reimbursement directly from Medicaid. Similar to Early Intervention, Medicaid reimbursement can remove the burden of payment from parents and create a more accessible option for therapy services.

One of the main benefits of working with Medicaid is the potential to reach a larger client base, as many individuals rely on Medicaid for their healthcare needs. Medicaid also offers a reliable reimbursement process, reducing administrative tasks associated with billing and collections.

However, it's important to consider that Medicaid reimbursement rates may be lower than private pay rates. This could impact the financial viability of your practice. Additionally, each state has its own requirements and eligibility criteria, so familiarize yourself with the regulations in your area.

Medicaid may require copayments and there may be managed Medicaid plans based on state. It is important to consider these factors along with the varied reimbursement rates. In my state of Florida, there are plans that do not make financial sense to accept and also plans that will pay less than the full 100% Medicaid rate. But parents do not pay and they cover more services for Autism.

By exploring these alternative payment sources, you can expand your client base and make therapy services more accessible to those in need. It's important to find the right balance between financial sustainability and providing quality care to the individuals and families you serve. In the next section, we will delve deeper into addressing potential challenges and requirements associated with these payment sources. Stay tuned!

Understanding the benefits and considerations of each option is crucial for making informed decisions about your therapy practice. While Early Intervention and Medicaid can minimize direct sales by tapping into alternative payment sources, it's important to assess the potential impact on your practice's revenue and consider any regional requirements or eligibility criteria.

Average Sales Source to Increase Your Client Caseload

Don't want to take money from parents? Take money from companies!

School-Based Practitioner

One option to consider if you want to minimize direct financial transactions with parents is to focus on becoming a school-based contracted practitioner. Many schools, both public and private, hire therapists to provide services to their students. By contracting with schools, you can offer your therapy services directly to the educational institution or to parents through the school.

To pursue school-based contracts, start by researching local schools and districts in your area. Reach out to school administrators, special education departments, or guidance counselors to introduce yourself and express your interest in providing therapy services.

When negotiating contracts with schools, ensure that the terms and conditions align with your practice's policies and requirements.

Discuss the frequency and duration of therapy sessions, your therapy session cancellation policy, the scope of services you will provide, and the reimbursement rates. It is also important to clarify the communication channels between you, the school staff, and parents to ensure effective collaboration and progress monitoring.

Billing

Find out if you will be working with students under their IEP and paid by the school district directly, or if you are working with a private school, preschool, or daycare if parents will be billed privately. If the parents are being billed will the school be billing and paying you directly or is that the responsibility of you as the therapist company?

Significant Sales Client Acquisitions Channels

Insurance reimbursement and Private Pay

More sales can be included when it comes to insurance reimbursement and private pay. It can be more challenging to attract clients when they have to pay for therapy themselves, as many individuals believe that health care should be covered by insurance. Understanding the sales aspect is crucial in effectively acquiring clients in these scenarios.

Insurance reimbursement requires convincing clients to choose your practice. If you are in-network, with the rise of high-deductible plans they may have significant out-of-pocket costs. If you are out of network or private pay, these costs may be even higher.

Attracting private pay clients can also be challenging. Many individuals hesitate to pay out of pocket, as they expect healthcare to be covered by insurance. To overcome this perception that going with the lowest cost provider is best, building trust and emphasizing the value proposition of your services are essential. Clearly articulating the benefits, personalized approach, and long-term outcomes of good therapy can help alleviate their reservations and convince them to invest in their well-being.

What about those initial informational calls from parents?

Treating Initial Informational Calls as Sales Calls

When it comes to running a therapy practice, the initial informational calls from potential clients are more than just conversations. They are sales opportunities that should be approached with intention and skill. In this section, we will explore the importance of treating these calls as sales calls and the value they hold for your practice.

Recognizing the Importance of Sales Techniques in These Interactions

It's crucial to recognize that initial informational calls are not just casual inquiries; they are the first step in the client acquisition process. This is where your sales skills come into play. By applying effective sales techniques, you can make a lasting impression, establish a connection, and ultimately persuade potential clients to choose your therapy practice.

During these calls, it's essential to showcase your expertise, actively listen to the client's needs, and effectively communicate the value of your services. Utilize your communication skills to build trust and address any concerns or reservations the client may have. By employing persuasive techniques, you can guide the conversation towards the benefits and positive outcomes they can expect from therapy with your practice.

Learning Sales Techniques

Sales techniques can be a game-changer in these informational calls, allowing you to make a strong impression and increase the likelihood of securing new clients. In a future blog post, we will delve deeper into proven sales techniques specifically tailored to therapy practices. We will explore strategies such as building rapport, addressing objections, effective questioning, and closing the call on a positive note. Stay tuned for valuable insights on enhancing your sales skills and mastering these crucial interactions.

Viewing Sales Calls as Opportunities to Connect and Persuade Potential Clients

Rather than perceiving sales calls as intimidating or transactional, it's important to view them as opportunities to connect with potential clients and guide them toward making a decision that aligns with their needs. By adopting a mindset of service and empathy, you can genuinely understand their concerns and present your therapy practice as the solution they are seeking.

Approach each sales call with a genuine desire to help and support the potential client on their journey towards better mental and emotional well-being. By establishing a connection, actively listening, and demonstrating empathy, you can create a positive and memorable experience for the client. Remember, the goal is not just to make a sale but to form a therapeutic relationship that will benefit them in the long run.

Stay tuned for the next post, where we will delve into the world of sales techniques specifically designed for therapists.

Expanding your client base as a therapy practice owner requires a combination of sales skills, effective marketing strategies, and building meaningful connections with potential clients. By understanding the sales aspect of running a therapy practice and implementing targeted marketing efforts, you can attract more clients and ensure the growth and success of your business.

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Pediatric Occupational Therapist | Parent Coach | I create content for pediatric OTs and parents related to sensory processing disorder and autism.

Orlando, FL
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