You have organized all your important documents, pulled together your logins and passwords for your CAQH and NPI accounts and are getting ready to submit all your applications. While attending a CEU training you hear from a colleague at a CEU training one of the insurance companies you planned to join is no longer accepting new clinicians. How can you set your application apart from all the other contenders in the area?
Tip #1: Credentials Matter.
Insurance companies prefer clinicians with training. A provider that is certified in EMDR or DBT for example, registered as a play therapist or has a Chemical Dependency license may have a better chance of reaching the top of the pile.
Tip #2: Less is More.
When listing your specialties and treatment modalities, don’t list all of them. Stick to the more desirable and unusual. A clinician that speaks English and Spanish and treats depression is more likely to gain a slot in the “closed or limited” network than a clinician that speaks only English and treats depression.
Tip #3: Think real estate. Location, location, location!
Yes, location matters. If you receive a rejection letter after applying to an insurance company due to the area “being saturated” or “no need for your specialty” that is what they are saying. Seek an area that is under-served.
Tip #4: Check your work schedule.
Who wants to see a therapist at 7pm? A working mom of a teenager that has soccer practice right after school and games on Saturday. Think of the age and demographics of your clients. Are they school age children, retirees, or working adults? Offering hours in the evening and on weekends is more desirable for many clients and the insurance companies are aware of this.
Tip #5: The squeaky wheel gets the oil.
Yes, you need to be the squeaky wheel. After you submit your application, you need to continually follow-up with the insurance companies. First call to provider relations is to confirm receipt of the application, then a couple weeks later to check the status, and yet a couple more weeks later to check the status again. You get the idea. The more you contact them (every two weeks or so) the greater chance of your application being accelerated.
Analytics have shown that the "About me" page is the second most popular web page just behind the home page and directly above the frequently asked questions page. So as a clinician you want to be sure that when they click over to your "about me" they are finding what they are looking for, but what is that exactly?
When looking to see a clinician or doctor for the first time, clients are first and foremost looking for someone who specializes in what they are coming in for and fits within their budget. However, if you are in a saturated market it is likely that there are plenty of other qualified clinicians. This is where your "about me" will set you apart.
Clients are looking to find someone they connect with.
When clients call to schedule an appointment with a clinician our scheduling staff often hear comments like "I would love to see Mandy, I saw that she has a therapy dog and I think my child will connect easily with her." or "Sarah made a reference to "The Office" in her bio and that is my favorite show to binge." That doesn't mean that Mandy and Sarah just went on and on about themselves in their bio. In fact Mandy just has a picture of her pup with a blurb about therapy dogs and Sarah just included a quote from Micheal Scott at the bottom of her page, but those personal touches were all they needed to make the connection with their ideal client. It made the clinician "human" for the client.
Know who your ideal client is.
Take a look at your caseload and see if their is a common thread in your case load or something that the clients that you would love to see all day everyday have in common. That is who you should be talking to in your "about me." If you are a child therapist you will most likely be talking to moms who are concerned for their children, what can you say to connect with them? This would be a great place to mention your own child. If your target demographic is young adults and you know they are often stressed about college and adjusting to adult life include something in your "about me" section that will appeal to them. These two therapists would have completely different ideal clients and their biographies should look and read completely different.
Your about you page is not actually about you.
A lot of people make the mistake of getting too comfortable and relaxed in their "about me" and end up missing an opportunity to convert that potential client to an actual client. You are providing information about yourself in an effort to connect with your client and ensure that they follow through on your call to action. Take the time to talk directly to them, connect on the issues that matter most, and then call them to an action - to schedule an appointment with you. You understand them, you are empathetic to the struggles they are going through and if they pick up the phone and schedule today you can help.
Don't forget a picture.
A picture is worth a thousand words and knowing who they will see when they show up at the office can help put them at ease.
Combined with your bio above and your FAQ page they should come to your session feeling comfortable and excited to work with you. If you are missing a Frequently Asked Questions page on your website, visit our blog on why you should have a FAQ page and what you should include.
We would love to learn a little more about you, comment below with a link to your "about me" page along with a sentence that you include to help show your personality to potential clients. Bonus! This will count as a back link to help with your SEO!
5 Common Credentialing Mistakes
When a potential client is looking for a provider in your area, they are most likely going to type something like "'specialty provider' in 'city name'." Google will then show a list of practices for them to look through. The client client is going to click around on a few hoping to find what they are looking for, and most likely click on a link of a private practice that has a page that lists their specialties. They don't want to have to search through a website just to find out if the practice has what they need. By placing your specialty list on you your website, they know the practice has some experience in their specialty, along with a multitude of other topics. While having just a simple list of specialties might be enough for that potential client to book, these websites are missing a huge SEO opportunity by NOT having each specialty get a dedicated webpage, which gives them a chance to better educate and help their client make the best choice for themselves before they even call you.
So why do we reccommend giving each specialty it's own page? How does this help your SEO?
1. Clients stay on your page longer.
You want clients to stay on your page as long as possible. This is because when clients stay on your site longer, Google knows the information you have is quality, in turn making them more likely to recommend your page to others.
2. Adds more keywords to your practice listing
Keywords are the bread and butter of your website. You want your name, your location and words that clients type into Google when looking for a clinician to all be organically on your site to help your SEO or search engine optimization.
3. Increases client trust
If a client seeking treatment for PTSD , for example, goes to a website and sees PTSD on a very lengthy list of other specialties would they feel confident that the clinician is the top in their field? Probably not. They are wanting reassurance the practice or clinician knows what they are doing with PTSD. If they go to a page and see information regarding PTSD, explanations of different treatment options, along with some testimonials, they're probably going to feel pretty confident in who they should schedule with. You want this to be your page and have them pick up the phone and call you!
How do I figure out which insurance companies to panel with?
Start with asking colleagues and associates which insurance companies they are working with and what kind of referral stream they are receiving, ask if the insurance company is easy to work with as far as billing, demographic updates, and general communication. You can also speak with your clients/potential clients to see which insurance carrier they have.
When clients are looking for a mental health practice or counselor to see for the first time one of the most sought after pages is your Frequently Asked Questions. It's vital to include one to be sure that you are making potential clients feel comfortable and have an idea of what to expect at your practice. But what's the best information to include?
1. How to make an appointment
Ultimately you want every person that visits your FAQ page to schedule a first appointment with you. So let them know just how to do that. Be sure to include easy to click links so they don't have to wander around your site to find out how to contact you.
2. Price & Payment
Make sure your prices and accepted payment methods are available and clear. This can be confusing or frustrating for clients, so try to walk them through as much as possible. Do you take insurance? Which companies are you credentialed with? Do you accept all forms of payment or offer cash discounts? Be sure to make this clear.
Clients are going to want to find a clinician that fits not just their specialty and insurance but also their busy schedule. Let potential clients know the hours that you have available appointments as well as when you typically answer phones and return calls.
4. Number of sessions
A lot of clients are confused about what to expect and types of treatment. Medical care for a lot of clients is an 'unexpected' expense. Letting them know how many sessions they can expect to have, along with the frequency of these sessions, can help people plan financially. Even if you say something like, "the number of sessions varies depending on your treatment and can be discussed at the first appointment" can help them feel like they are not signing up for a never ending commitment.
Be sure to include directions and addresses for your location(s). You can even embed a Google Map onto your page so clients can get step by step directions from their front door to yours.
Be sure to let your personality come through in the FAQ page to help clients feel like they are getting to know you while still being concise and professional so that they feel comfortable to pick up the phone and make that first call!
Have you ever looked for a clinician or doctor to see yourself? If yes, what kinds of questions were you hoping to find answers to? What would have made you feel more comfortable before a first appointment? Share in the comments below.
Should new clinicians panel individually or under our group? Should I set up a group contract with the insurance company?
Group contracting is best, when available to you and your group. There are specific criteria and requirements with many insurance carriers. Processing claims, negotiating reimbursement rates, and general credentialing/re-credentialing are easier and faster to process due to being under the same tax identification number.
1. Every paper in a chart (including the intake paperwork, DSM scales you used for assessment, drawings done by client, journal entries they bring in, worksheets, etc) needs the clients name and date at the top, as well as your signature and date at the bottom.
2. All aspects of the detailed progress note need completed in order to be compliant with insurance requirements for all in person points of contact.
3. Document all phone calls, print all e-mails and do a note for all late-cancels/no-shows (document how you contacted them or they contacted you, whether they were charged and why, and follow up plan). These notes should NOT indicate in\out time, modality, persons present, etc
4. Notes need completed and filed before you leave on dates of service. Tragedy can strike you or client at any time.
5. Time in and out must match modality you are billing, name must match the legal name being used by insurance or on client’s ID and that name must be on all forms. If there is a different preferred name, you can indicate that in quotes. Ie: Melinda “Mark” Smith, or Aaron “Joe” Smith. If a couple/family is being seen, all documentation needs to be under the identified/billed clients name and from their perspective….all references to other people are “client’s husband states… or Mark states” etc. Also get multi person release signed.
I have been audited before (not fun) and have recently discussed documentation standards with board. They are clear on the above-mentioned issues and insurance companies can take back money for any of the above issues as well.
Tip from a real clinician -
Interested in sharing tips you have learned along the way at your private practice? Message us with your idea and we might just share your tips in our next blog.
Something that we are frequently asked is how we organize our credentialing. With so many documents required and providers to keep track of it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. So we asked our credentialing team.
How to organize and streamline the process:
Most individual providers and groups are not able to afford special credentialing software for their practice. One tool I’ve found useful and CHEAP in helping to organize the whole process is just a basic Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. Formatting it to list the insurance companies you are working with helps you to stay on top of credentialing and re-credentialing, including hospital privileges. Use the spreadsheet to notate what date you submitted the application and by what means (fax, email, or online website). You can also keep notes on your follow-up noting whom you spoke with at the insurance company and approximate how much longer until the provider is in-network. Microsoft Excel tools are also able to highlight columns or specific blocks to jump out at you as you are going through your week. You can highlight one color to term providers, one color to follow-up with insurance companies, etc. It’s a great way help you plan your schedule at a glance.
If you haven't signed up for our newsletter yet, you should! We send out an excel sheet that is formatted to save you time and help you get started.
What do I do once my clinicians have completed their application to participate?
Follow-up with the insurance companies to confirm receipt and check the provider status. Typically it takes 90-180 days for applications to be processed. Some insurance companies are able to confirm receipt of application within 2 weeks, other companies are not able to confirm receipt of application until after 90 days due to the different departments the application goes through. It is best to check at least every 30 days if not more often.