Chimezie Chidi, M.A., CCC-SLP, discovered her passion for speech therapy in college, but her experience in schools pushed her toward building a private practice.
“More than half of speech therapists (56%) are employed in educational settings and end up working in a school setting after they graduate. I tried that, but it wasn’t for me,” explained Chimezie Chidi, founder of Celebrations Speech Group Inc. “School settings focus on group therapy, but I wanted to practice one-on-one, individualized sessions.”
As a result, Chidi began seeing students after school. Through word of mouth, she began seeing more and more patients at home. But as she grew, it was clear that it was time to make the business “official.”
In 2016, Chidi took the next step and registered her business. Celebrations Speech Group was born.
Within the next 6 years, she would expand the business to include over 20 staff and 3 locations across Northern California.
Staying organized with electronic medical records
Electronic medical records (EMR) systems are the core of successful practice management. Organized EMRs remain essential for audits, insurance, and patient billing.
Despite their importance, many EMR systems are cost-prohibitive to new or independent practices. Usually built and priced for hospitals or large clinics, many EMR providers don’t offer low-volume plans.
With Tebra’s help, Chidi could finally implement an EMR system that fit her small business needs. She appreciated how they offered many different plans and options for new or private practices at affordable prices.
“At the time, I wasn’t even sure if I could afford an EMR. But the team at Kareo [a Tebra company] offered many different plans and options, so it wasn’t intimidating at all,” Chidi said.
Streamlining insurance billing
One of the biggest changes was the need to take insurance. Many patients can’t afford to pay cash. As a result, Chidi decided to go through the credentialing process so her practice could accept insurance payments.
But while credentialing helped with retaining clients, it complicated the billing process. Medical billing — in particular superbills — are tedious to compile. In addition, being credentialed meant that a patient’s clinical notes needed to meet a certain standard, adding more paperwork.
“I knew that if I started accepting insurance, I would definitely need to have a system that would also allow me to bill their insurance,” Chidi said. “Other software I was looking at was really expensive. But Kareo offered options for new and private practices.”
Through Tebra’s payment and billing portal, Chidi reduced the time spent on billing and reviewing patient notes. But that’s not all.
As she took on more insured patients, her practice grew. It wasn’t long before she was able to hire her first medical biller to focus entirely on payments while she spent time with patients.
Word of mouth and accepting insurance were two ways Chidi could grow her business. But that wasn’t the only way.
But the biggest improvement has come from patient feedback. Her staff used an Excel spreadsheet to manage patient feedback and reviews. Now, when a patient finishes their session, they are automatically sent a survey. If the feedback is positive, they are asked to share a review.
As a result, Celebrations Speech Group gets about 3 new reviews a week.
“My experience has been that they just constantly keep improving,” explained Chidi. “I have seen that my business has grown. I don’t know if the outcomes would have been the same if I had used a different EMR.”
Over the years, Chidi extended Celebrations Speech Group to 3 locations and brought on about 20 providers and 10 staff. And to keep the wheels greased, support her providers, and spend time with patients, there is a vast amount of paperwork. But from billing to marketing and care delivery, the entire staff uses Tebra. And they love it.
“When I onboard a speech therapist and we show them the program, they can’t believe it. They say this is so easy! The providers and staff absolutely love it,” Chidi explained.
Using Tebra’s system not only links important information, such as medical records and appointment scheduling to billing and insurance eligibility, but it’s incredibly intuitive for the staff to navigate.
“Tebra was how I was able to open two more practices in the last year. I’ve gone from seeing patients at my house after school to supporting a total staff of around 30 people,” said Chidi.