No matter how good your intentions are, it’s important to remember that running an ABA practice is, first and foremost, a business. Before you take any of the other steps we’ve outlined, you’ll need to understand the state of the ABA therapy market in your region.
Begin by doing your research on potential competitors. Check if there are other local and state clinics, ABA therapy centers, or ABA therapy practitioners operating in the region. If there are other practices in the region, you’ll need to assess whether there is any room left for you to open your own, or if the market is already saturated and starting an ABA practice would likely turn out to be a waste of your time and money.
2. Decide between setting up a clinic or practicing in-home
If you have completed your research and identified a gap in the market for your own ABA therapy practice, you must decide whether you are going to open a dedicated practice or if you would prefer to operate from your patient’s homes. There are numerous pros and cons to each of these approaches.
For example, renting a space and setting up a clinic may provide your clients with the opportunity to develop their social skills, but it will also cost more to run every month. You’ll also need to pick the right location, or your practice might never even get off the ground. On the other hand, treating a patient in their home might be more affordable for you, but they may be distracted by being in their home environment. Then there’s the concern that outside of your sessions, your patient may not have enough supervision to ensure your ABA program is impactful.
You’ll need to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of each of these approaches to ABA therapy, as they’ll have a dramatic impact on the cost of your practice, as well as how you run it on a day-to-day basis.
3. Understand the legal requirements
As an ABA therapy practitioner, you’re already aware of the ethical and legal concerns that you need to address or, at the very least, keep in mind when treating a client. But your legal concerns don’t stop there. Before you start your own practice, you need to legally register your practice as a business, make sure you are fully aware of any compliance legislation, develop contracts for your future staff and clients, and deal with numerous other laws before you even think of opening the doors of your practice.
Here are some of the key legal hurdles you’ll need to overcome before you start practicing:
- Deciding on your business structure (for example, sole proprietorship, partnership, or limited liability company), as this will affect how you pay taxes, secure funding, your liability, and numerous other elements
- Registering your ABA therapy company at a federal and state level
- Getting an employer identification number (EIN) and national provider identification (NPI) number
- Ensuring you have non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) and privacy policies in place
- Developing liability waivers to further protect you and your business
4. Secure funding
An ABA business plan will be vital to help you secure funding. Depending on whether you decide to operate your own clinic or practice in-home (and if you’re considering eventually expanding your operations and franchising) will affect how you approach funding. If you plan to keep your practice small, you may be able to self-fund your business. However, if you plan to establish your own clinic and hire additional staff, you’re going to need additional funds from investors, loans, grants, or even family members who might believe in your vision.
But regardless of the size of your practice, without the minimum amount of startup capital, your practice will struggle to get going and may not even make it out the starting blocks. This is why it is one of the key business essentials for ABA startups.
5. Hire the right staff
You’ve cleared all the previous steps and are considering hiring staff to assist you at your practice. Depending on the size of your practice, you may need to hire people to fulfill the following roles:
- Behavior Therapist
- Board-certified assistant behavior therapist
- Special education teacher
- Secretary or receptionist
Regardless of the size of your practice and the people who end up working there, you need to have clear guidelines and work policies that are legally enforceable. This will help protect you and your employees should any challenges arise during their period of employment.
Once you’ve got this in place and have started the hiring process, consider the type of work culture that you’d like to develop and try to find people who will naturally fit that type of work environment.
For example, if you’re someone who is a strong believer in people helping out in all aspects of the business, you’re not going to want to hire someone who believes in exclusively sticking to their hired role. On the other hand, if you are someone who prefers that people don’t step outside of their designated duties, someone who is a flexible go-getter may clash with the work culture that you’re trying to establish.
6. Have your practice management and billing tools set up and ready to go
While there’s always a certain amount of teething that comes with opening your practice doors for the first time, you want your practice management and billing tools (minor hiccups aside) to be set up and ready to go.
Practice management tools can help you streamline your business operations by making it easier to:
- Communicate with your clients
- Schedule appointments
- Safely store patient data
- Manage staff leave
- Track employee productivity
- Process claims for the services you provide
- Ensure payroll is correctly administered
- Record business-related transactions and bills
This will not only ensure your day-to-day operations go smoothly, but that when less common events occur, such as audits or employee reviews, you have all the information you need easily accessible on your practice management system.
7. Stay up to date on the latest ABA therapy practices
As in any other healthcare sector, there are regular updates to existing practices that will change how you approach treatment in your ABA therapy business. These changes can occur for multiple reasons, such as researchers gaining a better understanding of sensory processing and autism, or new tools being developed that help those with nonverbal autism communicate their needs.
These sorts of shifts can occur quite unexpectedly, which is why it’s so important to stay on top of developments in the ever-shifting ABA therapy landscape so that your practice always offers its clients the best treatment options.
Choose the right ABA billing service provider
As you’ve seen, opening your own ABA therapy business is a very complex process. But you can simplify it by outsourcing your ABA billing to Missing Piece.
Missing Piece is an ABA billing services provider that has been working with ABA practices across the United States for more than 10 years. As an ABA billing specialist, we provide you with payer and billing expertise that ensures your revenue cycle management is optimized, allowing you to focus your attention on other areas of your practice, such as providing your patients with additional, focused care.
Contact us to find out more about Missing Piece’s turnkey billing services and how they can improve your practice’s billing operations.