Posted By Jim Broyles, PhD, OPA Director of Professional Affairs,
Thursday, April 12, 2018
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Thinking of retirement? You are not alone. Questions about retirement are among those most commonly received by OPA staff. Below is a checklist of important retirement considerations. In assembling these guidelines, I have integrated more general ideas offered by APAPO with Ohio rules governing psychologists. Some of the guidelines have links to other very helpful APAPO documents. You may access these if you are a member. (If you are not, I urge you to join!)
Clients and Their Records
- Inform your current clients be sure to leave adequate time for termination or referral.
- Talk to the psychologists to whom you will refer clients who need ongoing treatment — find out about their availability, insurance accepted, location, office hours and areas of expertise
- Ensure continuity of care by providing referrals to clients who require ongoing services and helping them with the transition
- Obtain informed consent and transfer a copy of your clients' records to the new providers
- Inform your clients other health care professionals and keep them up-to-date on the status of closing your practice
- Attempt to notify your past clients. There are a number of approaches you might take, including sending a letter and/or placing a notice in the local papers of the area you serve, on your website and in other community forums. Be sure to include information about how to contact you or access client records.
- Be mindful of records you are required to maintain. Ohio rule regarding this:
OAC 4732-17-01 (B) Negligence:
(7) Maintenance and retention of records.
(b) To meet the requirements of these rules, but not necessarily for other legal purposes, the license holder shall ensure that all contents in the professional record are maintained for a period of not less than seven years after the last date of service rendered, or not less than the length of time required by other regulations if that is longer. A license holder shall retain records documenting services rendered to minors for not less than two years after the minor has reached the age of majority or for seven years after the last date of service, whichever is longer.
- Identify a person who will maintain current records you are required to keep and protect their confidentiality. Make sure you have an updated written plan to facilitate the transfer of these records, and that the person who knows the location of this plan is identified by you to the Ohio Board of Psychology. Ohio rule regarding this:
OAC 4732-17-01 (B) Negligence
(7) Maintenance and retention of records.
(c) A license holder shall store and dispose of written, electronic, and other records of clients in such a manner as to ensure their confidentiality. License holders shall prepare in advance and disseminate to an identifiable person a written plan to facilitate appropriate transfer and to protect the confidentiality of records in the event of the license holder's withdrawal from positions or practice. Each license holder shall report to the board on the biennial registration (renewal) form the name, address, and telephone number of a license holder or other appropriate person knowledgeable about the location of the written plan for transfer and custody of records and responsibility for records in the event of the licensee's absence, emergency or death. The written plan referenced in this rule shall be made available to the board upon request.
- Talk to your attorney and accountant to determine whether selling your practice is a viable and worthwhile option. Also, be aware of ethical issues related to selling your practice, and seek appropriate consultation as necessary
- If selling your practice, decide whether to work with a broker to help you navigate this potentially complicated process that requires a sophisticated understanding of local and state laws, business valuation, marketing strategy, tax implications and contracts
- Collect any accounts receivable
- Pay off any outstanding debts
- Work with your accountant to organize your financials records (e.g., financial reports, tax documentation, contracts)
- Talk to your accountant and/or tax professional about the tax implications of closing or selling your practice and strategies to reduce your tax liabilities
- Once all of your finances have been reconciled, close bank accounts associated with your practice
- Discuss the arrangements with your partners — if selling or transferring your ownership to your partner(s), be sure to work closely with your attorney to protect all parties involved
- Inform your office staff far in advance
Notify all your referral sources
Inform other professional contacts and relevant entities, including the psychology board, professional organizations, insurance panels and other parties with which you contract, your billing and answering services and other practice consultants
- If you rent office space, give notice to terminate your lease in the manner and time frame that your leasing contract requires. If you own, take steps to sell or rent your office
- Sell, donate or dispose of office equipment, such as photocopiers, fax machines, and furniture. Remember that if any of this equipment contains confidential information, that information must be deleted in line with HIPAA requirements.
- Use up any remaining office inventory
- Contact the issuers of any business licenses and permits you hold
- Cancel any utilities (e.g., electric, gas, water, phone, Internet) you pay for your office
- Submit a change of address form with the post office. Depending upon your privacy concerns and where you want your professional mail delivered, you may want to consider obtaining a post office box for a period of time to make sure you do not miss any important correspondence
- Cancel or forward any publications or subscriptions you received at your office
- Forward your office telephone number or keep you answering service for a period of time. Place an outgoing message informing callers of your closure and giving instructions for contacting you or accessing their records
- Call your professional liability insurance carrier — make sure you are covered for complaints filed after you close your practice. If your current policy does not cover this type of complaint, find out about purchasing a "tail" to your policy
I hope you find this helpful. For those of you who are more experienced with this process, please feel free to contact me with more tips others might find helpful.
Jim Broyles, PhD, OPA Director of Professional Affairs
This information is also available in a pdf version in the Professional Resources section of our website located under the Member Services tab.
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