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What Special Business Needs Do Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) & Autism Provider Business Owners Have?

by  |  Improving Your Practice

According to the CDC, 1 in 36 children has been diagnosed with autism. This rate is dramatically higher than in the 1990s. For this reason, parents are increasingly seeking services to help their children. ABA therapists and autism providers serve this need. Yet, there is a dearth of ABA therapists and autism providers available to build those important skills. 

For this reason, starting an ABA clinic is a great opportunity now. It will help countless individuals with autism and can be a very strong, profitable business. However, an ABA clinic is not the same as any other business. There are special considerations that an aspiring ABA and autism provider owner must consider when opening an ABA clinic. Here are some of the business and legal issues that can arise when forming and operating an ABA clinic. 

What is an ABA Therapist or Autism Provider?

An Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapist or autism provider is a professional who specializes in working with individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) using the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). ABA is a therapeutic approach based on the science of learning and behavior, which aims to improve socially significant behaviors by systematically applying interventions derived from behavioral principles. ABA therapists or autism providers play a crucial role in improving the lives of individuals with autism by providing individualized, evidence-based interventions to support skill development, promoting positive behavior change, and enhancing overall quality of life.

What Should I Consider When Setting Up An ABA Practice?

There are similarities to setting up an ABA practice to setting up any business and then, given the nature of the services offered in an ABA practice, considerable differences between an ABA practice and other businesses. Although each ABA practice will be different, there are certain things that one ought to consider when setting up a practice.

It is crucial to think about the mission of the practice, what services will be offered, and to establish the target market. Making financial projections is also an important step. This will inform how to fund the practice, which can be a steep initial investment. 

You will also have to establish operational processes and infrastructure, including securing office space, acquiring necessary equipment and technology, and developing policies and procedures to deliver ABA services effectively. Hiring and training qualified staff members will be critical to establishing and maintaining a successful ABA practice.

One will also need to obtain all necessary certifications and licenses to operate legally within the ABA field. This includes becoming a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and ensuring compliance with state regulations. Great care needs to be given to this step.

The practice will need to attract clients and grow the practice. Building a strong online presence through a professional website and social media platforms, networking with other professionals in the field, and utilizing targeted advertising campaigns can help with this. 

Finally–and most importantly–the practice must maintain legal compliance throughout the process, from start-up to operation. Consulting with legal experts can ensure adherence to all relevant laws and regulations.

What Legal Issues Can Arise for ABA Therapists and Autism Providers?

A variety of legal issues can arise for ABA therapists and autism providers. Here are some of the most prevalent:

Billing and Insurance Fraud: A provider could face allegations of billing fraud, insurance fraud, or healthcare fraud. This could lead to lawsuits, investigations, or legal action against ABA therapists or autism provider business owners accused of submitting false claims, upcoding services, or engaging in other fraudulent billing practices.

Breach of Contract: Disputes could arise between ABA therapists and their clients or between autism provider business owners and employees, contractors, or vendors. These disputes could regard contractual obligations, payment terms, scope of services, or other terms of agreement.

Business Disputes: Lawsuits may be brought due to business disputes between autism provider business owners and partners, shareholders, or other stakeholders regarding ownership rights, management decisions, business transactions, or dissolution of the business.

Employment Law Violations: Lawsuits might be filed against autism provider business owners by current or former employees alleging violations of employment laws. This could include reasons such as discrimination, harassment, wrongful termination, wage and hour violations, or failure to provide reasonable accommodations for disabilities.

Intellectual Property Disputes: Legal disputes could arise regarding intellectual property rights, such as trademarks, copyrights, or proprietary information related to ABA therapy techniques, treatment protocols, or business operations.

Malpractice Allegations: ABA therapists and autism provider business owners may face malpractice lawsuits if clients or their families allege that they provided substandard care or failed to meet professional standards of practice if this resulted in harm to the individual with autism. Examples of ABA malpractice may include using outdated or unproven ABA techniques, failing to obtain informed consent from clients or their guardians, or neglecting to monitor progress and adjust treatment plans accordingly. 

Privacy and Data Security Breaches: Following a data security breach, ABA therapists and autism provider business owners could face lawsuits or legal actions related to data breaches, unauthorized access to patient information, or violations of privacy laws like HIPAA.

Regulatory Compliance Issues: ABA therapists and autism provider business owners may face lawsuits or legal actions related to regulatory compliance issues. Some of these compliance issues might include violations of state licensing requirements, failure to adhere to professional standards of conduct or noncompliance with healthcare laws and regulations.

Hire an Experienced ABA and Autism Provider Business Owner Lawyer 

ABA and autism providers may operate in centers, at home, in the community, or at school. Their medical practice might look very different from other medical practices, given the special population it serves. Regardless, a seasoned attorney can navigate legal obligations in all of those settings. Contact an experienced ABA and Autism Provider Business Owner Lawyer today.

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