Managing a business today can present various challenges, and the events of this year have caused an overwhelming need to hone in on those challenges to find resolution. 2020 has caused many businesses to shut down due to lack of financial stability or struggle to keep the doors open. One of the main financial costs of running an applied behavior analysis (ABA) business tends to come from administrators who do not provide services. This cost can increase if you have employees duplicating work or spending time going back to review prior work due to lack of tracking.
A key area that many companies are struggling with is client management -- from issues like long waitlists to managing re-authorization of services. In this blog, I will focus mainly on the challenges with initial on-boarding and tracking of authorizations, however, many of the topics below can be applicable to, and utilized in, other aspects of a business as well.
Onboarding a client can feel overwhelming, especially when waitlists are longer than ever. Various steps are involved, including calling parents or caregivers for insurance information, calling insurance to verify coverage, getting an initial assessment authorization, finding a BCBA that fits with the client, and coordinating schedules. Then, once a client is onboarded, there are additional challenges in ensuring that the client receives services without disruption.
Some of those challenges include re-authorization, continuing to verify insurance, updating schedules, ensuring maximum authorization utilization, and the list goes on. The best way to get ahead of these issues is to be proactive in anticipation of their occurrence.
There are many things you can do to prepare oneself for successful client management. Here are three of them.
One key area for improvement that many organizations can use to streamline workflows or reduce duplication of work is through process development. By creating an internal process document that outlines step by step (like a task analysis) what needs to be done with clear expectations, you can easily train new hires and ensure they are utilizing the most efficient path for success during a client's first interaction with your business. For example, if an employee has already called the parent to gather insurance information and the document states that the next step is to call the insurance company to verify, then the employee will easily know what to do next versus stopping to ask management or another employee for assistance.
Having this document can also ensure that employees follow the same steps, allow certain employees to own different parts of the workflow, and provides clear, objective communication on what is needed. This can also help you keep track of where a specific client is at during that onboarding process which in turn allows anyone to come back and pick up where the last person left off.
An area that may seem outwardly obvious, but tends to fall by the wayside, is communication. Many employees prefer overcommunication, as it ensures they are doing what they need to get the job done. This can help reduce the amount of time spent on administrative tasks like onboarding. For example, Employee A communicates to Employee B that they have already called insurance to verify benefits. Afterward, Employee B can move to the next step in the process without having to call the insurance company or spend time figuring out what was done prior.
You not only want to communicate with your employees, but also your clients. Some companies do this very well when it comes to the client’s treatment, which makes sense -- this is the main focus of the client being there. However, you also want to make sure to communicate with the client or client’s caregivers around logistical items including authorizations, payors, and schedules. For example, if the caregiver changes payors without you knowing, it could cause issues down the line for reimbursement of services provided -- causing delayed payment. Communication can take place in the form of a process document, an email, a task assignment, or verbal acknowledgement.
A third area that can help solve some of these challenges is automation. While the initial investment can sometimes be costly, once integrated into your business, the payout can be highly beneficial, providing return on the initial investment.
Take the time to find a high-quality software that can automate some of the steps you have defined in your workflows, and also allows for easier tracking. For example: automatically assigning tasks to employees, or tracking information around who called the insurance company and when.
Software is an ever-evolving tool that, if done right, is constantly looking to make processes easier for companies. One of CentralReach’s main missions is to constantly strive to find ways to make the onboarding of clients easier within an ABA company, and help fulfill services to those clients. An example of this is the new integration with Change Healthcare. It allows you to follow up on a client’s insurance using their Connect Center portal to check insurance eligibility automatically. As companies continue to seek new ways of reducing costs, automation is going to continue playing a bigger role in that hunt with each passing year.
Process development, communication, and automation are just several areas that can be looked at to help solve some of the challenges a business may face when it comes to client management -- or any other aspect of your business. I encourage you to continue challenging yourself to review each one of these items every three to six months. One thing that the year 2020 has taught us all is that change is inevitable, and change is constant. What was relevant and helped solve your challenges three months ago may not be what is able to solve your challenges now or even six months from now.
About the Author
Justyn Harvey, M.Ed., BCBA
CentralReach, Customer Success Manager
Justyn found his way to the field of behavior analysis when he moved to Florida for a job as a Behavior Technician after graduating with his Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the Ohio State University. He was very passionate about the work he was doing and went on to pursue his Master’s Degree and certification in behavior analysis.
After spending a few years working his way up from an RBT to a BCBA, he came across CentralReach where he realized that he could make a more national impact by assisting ABA companies with a software to automate some of the daily administrative tasks and allow for more time with the clients who need it.
CentralReach is a leading provider of EMR, practice management and clinical solutions that enable applied behavior analysis (ABA) and related behavioral health practices to deliver quality autism care for superior outcomes. The company is revolutionizing the ABA space with cutting-edge solutions including precision teaching, clinical data collection, scheduling, billing, learning management, fully-digital evidence-based programming and more.
Trusted by more than 100,000 clinicians and educators, CentralReach is committed to ongoing product improvement, market-leading industry expertise, world-class client satisfaction, and support of the ABA community to propel industry practitioners into a new era of excellence. For more information, please visit CentralReach.com or follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.