Where to go next in private practice?
Updated: Apr 30
If you are brand new to private practice you might want to check out my first blog ‘Where to start in private practice?’. If you’ve already had the pleasure, then welcome to part 2!
Having got all of the slightly (extremely) boring basics of setting up out of the way, I started quite enjoying this private practice malarky and got quite into it - I created a website, got some business cards, and developed my own paperwork. Just a quick disclaimer that I am not promoting any particular services/ companies, I am just sharing my own experience so I would suggest doing your own research as well to make the right call for you!
Here are some of the ways I have tried to develop my private practice, I hope it can help someone else out:
1. Create a website
Having a website really boosts your professional profile. I have linked it to my Royal college of occupational therapists specialist section for independent practice (RCOT SSIP) profile which helps me stand out and allows potential clients to read more about me and decide if I am what they are looking for. I used wix.com to create my website and I find it quite good.
Basic information you should think about including on your website:
- About you (where you studied, positions you have held, your areas of specialty)
- Services you offer (functional assessment/ vocational rehab/ upper limb rehab/ mental health, home modifications etc)
- How to refer
A website also promotes occupational therapy as an important profession and contributes to raising awareness about occupational therapy and what we can offer. I find that often clients and family members are struggling but they don't know about occupational therapy and how it might help, so a simple explanation of occupational therapy on your website could really help.
2. Taking the website even further
I have recently expanded my website to include free downloads of some paperwork I developed and other free assessments I use. I am also expanding it to include this blog! So there is lots of potential for using your website to promote your business and provide a helpful forum for potential clients to read about you and get in touch.
I have recently signed up to Google Analytics which is a free service that gives me information on how many people visit my website, what percentage are new visitors, and how long they spend looking.
Optimising your website for SEO is also important. The way I understand SEO, it uses key phrases in your website to help you get found more frequently in online searches. Wix have this article that I found helpful.
3. Social Media
I find social media (mostly twitter) a great way to connect with an international community of people and organisations working in neurorehabilitation, disability awareness, inclusion, and occupational therapy. I find it a great resource to hear about new products/ organisations as well as linking with others working in my field.
I have twitter, linkdin and pinterest accounts where I share news articles about health/ disability/ occupational therapy. I follow lots of brain injury charities and organisations and I learn a lot about what is going on in the neurosciences and rehabilitation fields in the UK and overseas. You can see the types of things I post and the organisations and people I follow here:
4. Terms and Conditions
Inevitably you will find yourself in need of terms and conditions when working in private practice. I have developed a simple set of terms that I send to my clients and it includes the following:
Fees, including fees for travel, direct therapy time and how I cost reports/ admin time
How to make payment
If you want to see an example of my terms you can comment below and I am happy to share them with you.
5. Keep track of your referral patterns
I keep an excel spreadsheet to keep track of the number of inquiries I get, the appropriateness of referrals, the duration of input, the location, the referral sources etc. I saw a sharp increase in the number of referrals after I created a profile on RCOT SSIP directory which helped me decide to continue being listed there. I also saw that I was getting too many inappropriate referrals (for paediatrics for example), so I made it clearer that I only treat adults in my profile and since then I have had more appropriate clients approach me. If you have the time, I would advocate using a similar system to help you make decisions about where to invest more in your practice.
6. Develop your paperwork
I developed my paperwork quite organically. I did create a basic initial assessment template to bring with me to new assessments, but as we know each client is so different that I found it difficult to find a ‘one size fits all’ template, therefore I was constantly adapting and changing it. What I am left with is a loose structure for an initial interview and various add-on assessments where appropriate. For example, I have a separate posture and seating assessment for clients who need it. If you would like to see the initial assessment I use just comment below and I will send it to you. I have some assessments available for free download on my website as well so take a look and let me know what you think! They are not perfect but they are a start and it would be great to share ideas with other AHPs so we can deliver the best service we can to our clients.
I designed a logo for my business and added it to my business cards, my twitter account, email signature and to my reports and assessment paperwork. It helps people to recognise me and creates a professional image…plus this is more of the ‘fun’ stuff I referred to so mostly I did it because I enjoy it!
So two years in and that is where I am up to in terms of developing my private practice. There is loads to read online about developing your business but I couldn't find anything specific to healthcare or occupational therapy when I started out so I am hoping to change that culture, blog post by blog post. I would love to hear any feedback or the experiences you have had starting out and developing your private practice - just drop me a comment!