So you’ve just opened your counseling private practice and feel ready to start living your dream of being a private practice therapist. Everything is all set, but now your told that the insurance companies want to do a “site audit” to make sure everything is up to their standards. Even though this is something that all private practice therapists will have to face, I’ve found that there is little information available on the internet to help these nervous therapists. The truth is, site audits really aren’t scary and that may be the reason why. Now, I can only speak for Massachusetts insurance companies, but if you want to make sure everything’s up to snuff, why not just ask the auditor? They will call you ahead of time to schedule the audit and I took that opportunity to ask the person directly what their criteria were and I’m glad I did. Here are the general guidelines for surviving an audit for those that are wondering:
1. Have a white noise machine outside your office door to ensure client privacy: I use the Marpac model. You can get them for about $50 on ebay. Just have it positioned right outside your office door and make sure it works because the auditor might want to test it.
2. Have a waiting room and a bathroom: Sounds obvious, but some might not realize this is necessary. Since I have a home office, I use my livingroom as a waiting room and the auditor told me that was fine, so they’re not picky.
3. If your office is not handicap accessible, tell the auditor you are willing to do home-visits for handicapped clients
4. Have working smoke alarms
5. Have a fire extinguisher within easy access to your office
6. Have a map on the wall in your office showing where the exits are in case of a fire or emergency. A hand-drawn map is okay.
7. Put a sign that says “exit” on the exit.
8. If you see child clients, have a box of toys in your office or your office closet. It didn’t seem to matter if they were therapeutic toys or regular toys
9. If you have a file cabinet, it must be locked: I do electronic records, so I was told that so long as my laptop is password protected that that was fine.
10. Have a blank intake packet available for the auditor to look at: They may also want to look at a sample progress note as well.