Individuals who suffer debilitating injuries or have disabilities that limit their capabilities often seek the services of an occupational therapist to help them overcome this. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were approximately 104,000 individuals employed in this position in 2008 although employment opportunities are expected to increase 26 percent by 2018. Employment growth is being fueled by a large aging population, advances in healthcare services and increases in life expectancy rates. To cash in on the growing need for these services, you can start an occupational therapy business.
Get your license. Obtain a master’s or doctorate degree in occupational therapy, and apply for a license as an occupational therapist from your state licensing board. Pass the licensing exam given by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy to qualify for your license. Make sure you take continuing education courses and renew your license as required by your state to ensure it stays active and your business remains in good standing.
Find a location. Determine if you’ll provide occupational therapy services at your physical location or will travel to client homes to perform therapy. If you choose to perform services in your location, find a space that accommodates a variety of patients and the tasks they need to work on. If you choose to perform services in homes, lease or purchase an office location where you can house records, set appointments and meet with clients as needed.
Register your business. Secure a federal tax identification number for your occupational therapy business from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by completing the application form online or over the phone. If required, obtain a business license from the local municipality where your business is located. Contact a representative from the department of revenue in your state to learn what, if any, sales tax regulations apply to occupational therapy businesses. Fill out any forms to register with the state and collect sales tax if required to do so on the occupational therapy services you provide.
Set prices and policies. Determine how much you will charge for your occupational therapy services based on the amount of time you spend with the clients. Make a plan for billing clients and insurance providers for your services. Decide what policies you need to have in place regarding payment by clients when their insurance doesn’t cover your occupational therapy services.
Hire staff. As your business grows and the demand for your services increases, hire additional occupational therapists to meet with clients and provide therapeutic services. Consider employing a receptionist or office assistant to schedule appointments and answer the phone while you are away meeting with clients. Hire a medical biller or coder to process the insurance paperwork and forms if your receptionist is too busy or doesn’t have the training to do this.
Promote your business. Network with physicians and other healthcare providers in your community. These people often refer their patients to occupational therapists when they need the services the profession provides. Work with representatives from major insurance companies in your area to become an approved provider as this allows clients to come to you if their insurance doesn’t cover other occupational therapists.