When I started my practice, I didn’t know what hours to set. CAQH and some insurance panels wanted to know what my office hours were. But I had no idea when clients would make appointments and when I would actually be in my office. I knew I would probably just be in my office by appointment. Learn what hours to set, what your actual hours might be and more about by appointment only hours
When I was working on my applications for CAQH and insurance panels, they asked for my office hours. I figured I would set my hours as 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. I wasn’t expecting to work in my office that many hours but I wanted to be available as many hours as I could to get the most appointments. I planned to actually be in my office only by appointment.
In the beginning, I only had a few appointments a week. I would just go to my office for each appointment and to write my notes. My office didn’t have internet access because that cost extra so I did any work on my computer at home. Luckily, my office is only a 5 minute drive from my house. If you get an office that isn’t close to your home, you need internet access so you can do other work when you don’t have appointments or in between appointments when they are spaced far apart.
What Office Hours should you set?
A private practice therapist sets their own hours. You have to figure out what hours you will set because CAQH and most insurances will want to know this information. The hours you set may not be the actual hours you are in your office. They are the hours you are available to make appointments.
Begin by setting your hours for the longest range that you can possibly be in your office. Think about what hours you are allowed to be in your office. Some office buildings open and close at certain hours. Then, consider when the office building will have other people in it. If you can avoid it, try not to see clients at times when you are the only one in the building. It’s not safe to be alone with clients when there aren’t other people in nearby offices. Finally, consider when it is convenient for you to be in your office. All this information should help you set a possible range of hours for your office hours.
What are your Actual Office Hours?
In the beginning, I was only in my office by appointment. When I had clients scheduled, I would go to my office and I would work at home in between. At home, I would work on my blog, website and other revenue streams. I tried to schedule clients as close together as I could but you have to work with the clients’ schedules too.
Now that I have been in business a while and have built up my practice, I have developed some set hours that I am actually in my office. I thought my hours would be earlier than they turned out to be. For the most part, I work in my office from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. I’m not sure if this is the usual but it is what works for me. I would rather have earlier hours but I found a lot of people want to come after work. And not many people want to come before 10 a.m. or 11 a.m.
While you need to set a range of hours for many insurance panels and CAQH, many therapists actually work “by appointment.” By appointment means that you are not available at your office for people to walk in and make an appointment. Clients can only come to your office when they have an appointment. Bigger therapy offices will have a receptionist to greet clients. Often therapist won’t have a receptionist when they are just starting out and are not a part of another practice or office. If you get an office with a doctor or other professional, you may have an arrangement with them to use their receptionist. Otherwise, you want to set your hours as “by appointment only” for advertising and directories. This will reduce misunderstandings from people who may think they can “stop in” to make an appointment.