This month’s Success Story, “How Healthie Helped Grow My Private Practice,” is written by Kristi Coughlin, MS, RDN/LD. All experiences are her own. Kristi has been a wonderful part of the Healthie Community for years, and we love being a part of her business.
Running a private practice is full of ups and downs. Today you are on cloud nine because you booked a new client or a client shared a success with you. Then, the next day you feel frustrated because you are trying to figure something out and have a hard time deciphering what needs to be done…
Yep, just like you, I have experienced the highs and lows of private practice. Especially when it comes to the business needs of running a private practice. College courses teach us a lot about nutrition, such as chylomicron formation and the transportation of fat and fat-soluble vitamins throughout the body, and our internships help us apply that knowledge in a real world situation when we have a patient with fat malabsorption issues. However, we don’t exactly learn how to set up the business side of private practice, such as creating client packages, forming a LLC, or learning how to navigate HIPAA-compliance.
If I were to go out on a limb, I suspect you feel as though you still have so much to learn about running a private practice, despite knowing the Krebs Cycle forwards and backwards.
Sadly, we are not offered much training in the business side of the nutrition industry. Unless, you have taken business courses on your own or have a Masters in Business Administration. Though, if that were the case, you probably wouldn’t be reading this right now.
Much like you, two years ago I was having a hard time with the business side of running a private practice. Thankfully, Healthie helped me – on multiple levels. Bonus, they are here to help you, too!
Lifesavers, But Not The Candy Kind…
Two years ago, I decided to open my own private practice. It was something I had wanted to do for a long time. But, there were couple of things standing in my way.
One, the town I live in has nearly 100,000 residents, but the next big city is nearly three hours away. With a couple of established private practices in my town, opening my own practice wouldn’t be possible. I would have greater success if I could reach more clients outside of town. It occurred to me, if I could use the internet to communicate with people in more densely populated areas of the state, my business would have a better chance at success. The question then become, how would I go about doing that?
Two, I didn’t even know where to start… Talk about becoming paralyzed by decisions! A million questions were running through my head – LLC or sole proprietor? How do I collect payments from clients? How much do I charge for my services? Where do I start?? My head was spinning from all of the questions. It quickly became apparent, there was a lot to consider…
My (Short) List Of The Many Things Needed To Know To Start A Private Practice
- Communication is key, so I needed a way to message clients that was HIPAA-compliant, since email is not. Plus, if I wanted to reach clients across the state, I would need a way to video chat with those who lived out of area.
- Paperwork – Could this be digitized? In order to collect intake paperwork for clients from afar, I would need a way for clients to electronically send forms to me. And, if I needed to given them a handout… how would that work if they weren’t right in front of me? Also, would they be able to electronically sign paperwork, such as a client contract?
- Payment processing. Of course I wanted to get paid as a provider, but how does that work when taking cash in person isn’t an option?
- Business basics, such as liability insurance, forming a LLC, setting up a bank account… and so much more. Oh my!
- Support – Being a soloprenuer can be lonely when trying to answer all these questions. And, I knew as my practice grew, I wouldn’t always have time to help clients with figuring out technical glitches or figure out the answer to their latest how-to question. Therefore, I would need to know someone’s got my back on the tech-support side.
- So much more I hadn’t even thought to consider before getting started…
After realizing there was a lot I needed to figure out, I started reaching out to my dietitian friends, especially those in private practice. After a few conversations, I started to learn about the new trend of telehealth. This would solve my first concern – reaching clients across the state, not just in my town. Next on the list, answering the many questions I had running through my mind. And, if you’ve made it this far into the article, I am willing to bet you are in the same place.
Finding The Answers
After speaking with a few dietitian friends in private practice, I started to get some answers to my questions. At the same time, I had added a few to my list. Thankfully, one of my friends told me about Healthie. She had recently started using it in her practice and thought it would help me with my desire to reach clients throughout the state.
She had officially piqued my interest, so I reached out to talk with someone at Healthie. I am happy to report, Healthie was pretty much the answer to all of my questions. Not only were they able to help me connect with clients throughout the state, they could help me launch my business – by answering my hundred or so questions – with their Business Bootcamp.
Yes, a business bootcamp. In the Bootcamp, they review pertinent information to help nutrition professionals launch their own private practice. In the process, they talk about everything from website basics to creating packages and steps to get credentialed with insurance companies. And, this is why I signed up with Healthie. I have continued to stay with Healthie because they are awesome.
Healthie Is Great And Here’s Why…
Since working with Healthie, I have found a few features to be my favorite.
The Education Feature
As my private practice continues to grow, it will become more and more difficult to take all clients who want to work with me one-on-one. Well, at least there are only so many hours in a day to work with clients. That means, I need to consider the ability to work with multiple clients at once. Enter, group coaching sessions!
With Healthie’s education feature, I can make this happen. From automated emails to Zoom conference calls, I am excited to launch a group program for clients. Plus, there are many other possibilities for what can be done with the education feature.
While I originally wanted tech-support, to make sure clients who experienced issues had a resource to reach out to, I have found the support for myself, as a business owner to be incredible. Actually, their support has far exceeded my expectations.
When I need help with anything, I know that the Healthie team is just a click of a button away. I have used the Chat feature on their website to get assistance, sent a private Facebook message (in a dire situation), and received random support phone calls from Healthie staff to make sure everything was going well. Oh, I can’t forget the time Erica Jain, the CEO, took time out of her day to answer questions for me for research I was doing as part of a presentation for a state conference.
Bonus, I have appreciated their new Facebook group for the Healthie Community. It is a great opportunity for practitioners to get together in one place, ask questions of each other and bounce ideas off one another.
Beyond a Platform
Much like the support offered to the community, Healthie provides support for their practitioners. They host webinars, trainings, and bootcamps to tackle answering our questions. These special trainings are geared toward helping you start and promote your private practice. So, all those questions that I had a hard time figuring out in the beginning (many of which you can probably relate to) are answered in their trainings!
The added-value provided by Healthie and their team is incredible! Yes, you pay for a great telehealth platform, but all the other features that come with it are priceless.
Kristi Coughlin, MS, RDN/LD is an online private practice dietitian based in Central Oregon. She started her practice in 2016 as KC Nutrition, LLC before re-branding to Effectual Nutrition in August 2018. Kristi enjoys working with high-achievers so they learn to relax around rigid food goals and – finally – find the health & happiness they desire. When she is not working with clients, she is helping other dietitians learn to navigate the world of tele-health & starting their own private practice.