Building a Dream Behavioral Health Practice

Updated on January 29, 2024
Behavioral Health Practice

Whether starting a new behavioral health practice or joining and expanding an existing practice, the logistics of growing a practice can be challenging. However, before taking on the roles of both behavioral health provider and entrepreneur, it’s important to consider the behind-the-scenes work required for building a successful practice.


Hiring is one of the most important first steps to growing a practice. As you scale, you will need to consider the size of your staff. The more patients you hope to bring in, the more providers you’ll need, and the more administrative work will be needed. You’ll need to provide compensation and benefits consistent with industry standards.

Make a list of the roles you’ll need to hire for, which may include front-desk staff, office/practice manager, practitioners, and back-office staff.

Also, don’t forget to review your onboarding processes, as new hires will need to familiarize themselves with your practice’s values, work culture, expectations for employees, training materials, and a review of HIPAA policies and data security measures. Some practices handle onboarding themselves, while others utilize learning management platforms.

It’s also vital to collect feedback from staff about their onboarding and workplace experience. Methods for gathering meaningful employee feedback range from simple to complex. Whatever methods you choose, be prepared to respond to feedback and make changes as needed.
Infrastructure and Space

As you grow you might need to consider a larger office space for your practice. In addition to finding a property with the right size and layout at the right price point, you must consider the rules of your local zoning ordinances. 

If you’re scaling an existing practice, conduct an audit of your current space to determine if it can realistically support more practitioners and staff. A larger office space might be warranted. On the other hand, some practices choose to expand by employing telehealth providers that work remotely, or by opening an additional location. Operating multiple locations comes with its own set of considerations about communication and your ability to monitor the health of the practice.

Make sure that your tools are up to the challenge of expansion. You’ll need enough furniture for all practitioners, staff, and waiting room patients; a good phone system; computers for staff and providers; and a software system that can support the demands of a busy mental health practice.

Of these tools, your software will likely have the greatest impact on your practitioners, your staff, and your office management. Software solutions can manage your patient health records and clinical notes, scheduling, communication, reporting, and billing. Some practices choose to use different software solutions for different tasks. The best way to do that is with strong integration between programs. Many practices find it easier to use an EHR that is designed specifically for behavioral health and can manage those daily workflows in one place.

Data Management and Cybersecurity

With more staff and more patients come more opportunities for data breaches. While we all hope a data breach will never happen to our practice, the reality is, it can happen anywhere. Cybersecurity has become a major requirement for all branches of physical and mental healthcare.

It starts with finding an EHR that is HIPAA compliant and utilizes encryption as a powerful barrier against hackers and theft. But remember that data security risks can present themselves at any point of contact you have with your clients. That includes telehealth appointments, the patient portal, and email. Some EHRs offer these features rolled into one, so that these touchpoints are covered under the same HIPAA-compliant encryption protocols.


Clients won’t seek your help if they don’t know who you are and what you do. A marketing plan can help you get the word out about your services. Start by answering two big questions about your practice:

  1. What value does your practice offer to clients?
  2. How do you want prospective clients to reach out to you?

Once you’ve answered these questions, you can take advantage of the many methods to market your practice, such as creating a website and social media strategy (if you don’t have one), considering a paid advertising campaign, networking, reaching out to potential referral sources, and collaborating with other providers and organizations.


Telehealth is more complicated than just jumping on a Zoom call. While many video calling services exist, healthcare professionals need solutions that are HIPAA compliant and can integrate with your EHR to enable seamless scheduling, appointment reminders, and billing for sessions. Solutions for behavioral health can be even more complicated if you offer group therapy, as you’ll need a software that allows many users to join a single meeting at once.

A few qualities of good behavioral healthcare teletherapy options include

  • HIPAA Compliance
  • Integration with your EHR 
  • Option to host multiple participants.
  • Optional paywall feature to collect fees and copays
  • Interactive features such as a whiteboard and document attachment
  • Host control over chat features, mics, whiteboarding, etc.

Unfortunately, many telehealth solutions that look good on paper prove difficult for the average user to navigate. When choosing a telehealth option, ensure it is built to be as user-friendly as possible.

Financial Considerations

Closely review your budget and ensure that there is clarity on how funds are being allocated, especially during an expansion. Failing to delineate your budget can easily lead to overspending.

Also, determine how you will bill for services. Is your practice a fee-for-service operation, or focused on value-based care reimbursement? Be choosy about which billing and claims management software you’ll use. It should allow you to submit and track claims easily and accurately.

Finally, regularly review and adjust your growth and revenue projections. It can be difficult to form accurate projections early in the growth process, and you’ll want updated numbers for a clear picture of your practice’s health. Having this clarity can set you up for success and continued growth.

Ram Krishnan Headshots 2023 1 copy
Ram Krishnan

Ram Krishnan is CEO of Valant.