by John Minahan, CEO of Mindful Health Solutions
Mindful Health Solutions has been establishing clinics and care throughout California since 2007. Now, we are growing. However, balancing growth while not only maintaining the same level of care but improving it, is a delicate task. So, as we look to expand our mental health care to other states, it’s helpful to understand my view of opening clinics outside of California.
My experience with expansion
During my first five years as a public accountant, more than 80% of our clients were based in Europe. While traveling back and forth between European countries, a lot of my time was spent on international tax, audit, and currency issues. For the next five years, I worked for a public company and spent most of my time in Southeast Asia and Europe.
Because of this international experience, operating in a different state within the same country does not have the same meaning to me as it might to other executives. When first discussing moving into Texas, I considered that the language and currency are the same. Also, the time difference is not 6 to 12 hours, and, most importantly, the food is the same. Some might consider that there are cultural differences, but they are not nearly as significant as those between different countries. From a business and operational perspective, state lines are just not material. Therefore, when we started discussing moving outside of California, I did not shy away from the idea of expansion.
Why are we expanding into new states?
Ultimately, we are expanding into new states because there is an enormous need for mental health care in the United States. The need far outpaces the availability for patients to receive great in-network care. And unlike many other practices, we offer psychiatric services, psychotherapy, and interventional psychiatry all under one roof. In contrast, some practices are 100% virtual, don’t accept insurance, and they sure don’t have physical locations where patients can meet with their providers.
As we grow and create more access to care, we want to make investments in the community and build clinics. By doing so, our patients have the opportunity to meet with their providers. We could be more like some of those other practices. We could just hire part-time providers, license them in various states, and market to the world that we are a national healthcare company. However, we don’t think that is a long-term viable solution to the mental health issues facing our country. Instead, we are focused on the patient experience. And the patient experience is improved when given patients are given a local, physical clinic where they can be seen, helped, and treated in person.
How are we growing sustainably?
When expanding into new states, we first want to gain “regional density.” This simply means that rather than opening locations that are spread out around the US, we want to expand near or close to our existing operations. Washington state and Texas are both on the west coast and close enough to California to be considered regional.
Georgia is nowhere near California, so why Georgia? We happen to have a few people on the operational team who live in Georgia, including me. We thought this would be a great chance to grow the business in such a way that our own community would benefit. So, we are now open in Houston, Texas, Seattle, Washington, and Marietta, Georgia, and we have three more locations opening in Washington, Texas, and Georgia in Q1 of 2023.
Are we going to continue to add new states?
Right now, it is not in our growth plans to continue to enter more states. The Southern California, Texas, Georgia, and Washington markets are large enough to keep us busy for a few years. Just because we can enter other markets does not mean we should do it as fast as we did in 2022. We feel remaining focused on growth within our current states and building regional density is in line with our mission of offering excellent care while increasing access.
What is the impact on the patient experience and quality of care?
Both patient experience and quality of care are our highest priorities. After every visit, our patients receive a survey so they can tell us how we are doing. The surveys have 20 questions and provide us with a Net Promoter Score (NPS). We monitor this score and listen to what our patients are telling us. We have a department whose only function is to review all surveys. They read all comments and work with operations to improve the patient experience and the company. If a patient has a negative experience, they are immediately called, and we work to improve and correct any issues.
Our requirement as we grow as a company, no matter the geographic location, is that our NPS must always be improving, and it is. We refuse to grow the company if we cannot, at the same time, improve the patient experience for everyone. Our plan is to be the best innovative behavioral health services company in the country. While I think we already are, I hope to make others think the same as we continue to sustainably grow our care and provide our expert mental health services throughout the United States.