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Haley Goodrich, RD, LDN

When we first started out at WellSeek, Haley Goodrich of INSPIRD Nutrition was just getting started with her private practice in Pittsburgh, PA and became one of the first Experts to join our community. As a confidante and our sounding board (a big THANK YOU!!), Haley has the perfect combination of practical intuition and a remarkable drive to succeed as she created her business.

With her methodical and thoughtful preparation from the very beginning, it has been incredibly inspiring to see her steadily grow her practice through social media marketing, physician referrals, and accepting insurance.  

How did you get your start as a dietitian?

Throughout my entire internship I was sure I wanted to be a clinical dietitian. I started each rotation with an open mind but completed it with the same confidence that I was meant to be a clinical dietitian. We did not have a rotation in private practice so this was something that wasn’t really on my radar at the time. Once I graduated and passed my boards, I accepted my first job as a clinical dietitian. I felt so proud and very official in my white coat. The excitement only lasted about 6 months when I felt something was missing.

 

Was there a specific event that triggered the ‘A-HA’ moment that you wanted to start your own practice? How did you get started and how did you feel about the whole process?

My white coat days began to feel very repetitious. I didn’t feel like I was making a big enough impact on people’s lives. I wanted to show people how to love food as much as I did. Many times my patients were too sick to know I even assessed them, completely removing any RD to patient interaction. Education consults were not always welcome and hours of charting were often seen by no one other than the succeeding dietitian. I felt stuck in my career of 6 months and anxious because I wasn’t helping people in the way I wanted to.

One day a little over a year ago, while boarding a plane, I looked at my husband and said, “I want to own my own practice!” Before my flight was even off the ground I had started a Word document titled “What I need to start a private practice.” By the time we landed a very basic business plan was formed. In the following weeks I began to research everything I could from forming a LLC to how private practices across the country were structured and I wrote every single idea I had down. I was determined. I was inspired.

 

That must have been so thrilling when you made that decision! What were some of the initial first steps that you took to set up your business?

Once I had some logistics figured out, the first thing I did was form an official LLC and obtain a business tax ID. Next came a business bank account and the process of becoming an insurance provider. Healthy Bytes would have made this process much less painful had they been around at the time. I was simultaneously planning and implementing my marketing strategy. During my internship I believed private practice didn’t seem attainable because everyone said establishing a clientele took years to achieve. My future self is now looking back realizing this was not always the case as long as I carefully planned out all of the necessary steps. 

I do believe MD to RD relationships can take time to establish, however this is not the only source of referrals anymore. Nutrition counseling reimbursement has grown substantially and preventative care is sky rocketing. Social media also plays a huge role in marketing by reaching potential clients.

 

How do you know if you will connect with a client? Are there specific things that you look for that help you identify the best candidates who you will work well with?

I love working with the super motivated client who is ready to change their lifestyle. Sometimes with the physician referrals you get a lot of clients who just feel they have to be there per their MD's request. With this comes a lot of negativity and excuses and they are less likely to return. But I also try to view it as a great opportunity to shift their perspective in being more positive about a lifestyle change, even if it's just a little bit.  

I have also learned I connect better with clients when I am counseling on subjects I am most passionate about. We can’t be experts in every area of nutrition. Find what your passion is specifically and excel in it. 

 

You chose to began accepting insurance very early on in your practice. What made you decide to invest that time upfront, and was the whole credentialing/contracting process and reimbursement process really as difficult as others make it out to be? 

I knew I wanted to be a provider for insurance from the beginning. It is very important to me that dietitians are seen as equals with other health care providers. We are the experts in our field so why should another professional be doing our job. By accepting insurance dietitians can help more people and we can get paid more for doing it. 

The credentialing/contracting process was confusing to me only because I had no one to direct me or answer my questions at the time. The process was mostly trial and error on my part and honestly I almost quit. But I am SO glad I didn’t quit. Accepting insurance is definitely worth it and using a resource such as Healthy Bytes can make becoming a provider much easier! The more we help each other, the easier it can become for RDs in the future! 

 

You’ve since began working with Healthy Bytes, has that been helpful to your process?

Healthy Bytes has made accepting insurance so much easier! The submission process for both eligibility checks and claims take less than 30 seconds, so it is very user friendly. Healthy Bytes is always available to answer questions or provide help. I usually receive returns emails and eligibility checks within 24-48 hours. Another feature that is helpful is the Dashboard. You can see all the claims you have submitted, their current status and how much you are expecting to get paid. Honestly I have survived the new year  because of Healthy Bytes, as deductibles started over and new clients were filling up the schedule.

 

As you continue to grow your business, what are some areas that you think would have an impact on keeping your clients coming back?

Retention is definitely an area I would love to improve on. I have played with the idea of package deals (ex: 5 sessions for a set price) but I feel it may scare some people away because of the commitment. I find that most are already nervous about going to see the dietitian so making them commit to 5 sessions is overwhelming. A package deal after the first session is a better idea. Get them in the door and get them motivated first. Unless I really feel like they do not need another session, I always encourage scheduling a follow up. At the beginning, the more frequently I see the client usually keeps them motivated. Lastly, I have found that if you set up mini goals at the end of each session they are more likely to come back. Looking at the big end goal (100 + lbs weight loss for some people) is extremely daunting and not attainable. We make 1 to 3 mini goals just to work on for the next couple of weeks. These are always set at a level suitable for the client. 

Thank you for sharing your story and for being with us from the very beginning, Haley! <3