When health and wellness coaches start their own business, one of the first things they should tackle is getting their legal documents created and embedded into their intake system. These legal documents may include:
- A consent form or services agreement
- An authorization form
- Group coaching agreements
- Internal policies and procedures
- Malpractice insurance policies
- Legal entity formation and operation documents
- Employment and/or independent contractor agreements
- Others as needed to meet unique business needs
Many times, usually to save money, coaches may be tempted to use templates that are available for free or a small flat fee. The trouble with these templates is that they are very cookie cutter and difficult to tailor exactly to your business idea or strategy. In business, it is imperative to stand out from the crowd, so using something that everyone else is using does not advance your unique place in the market.
Even more important, however, is using templates prevents you from interacting with a legal advisor. Often, legal advisors can provide ideas for your business that you may never realize were important considerations! Buying a flat fee template (or using one for free) forecloses that possibility. Lawyers and compliance consultants spend years of training and helping clients. Sometimes their viewpoint is exactly what you need to move your business idea forward in the least risky way possible. But if you don’t engage with those professionals, you will likely never discover that. Just like insurance, investing in legal help can save a lot of headache later. You may not realize the benefits, but if you never get into trouble, your legal bills will be money well spent.
Finally, problems that I have witnessed with legal templates is that they do not address the issues the coach needs addressed. For example, one telehealth platform service offers free “informed consent” forms that users can download. Yet, upon closer scrutiny, a trained eye quickly sees that the form addresses telemedicine issues only. For example, the form alerts a coach’s clients to what telemedicine is, what information may be collected on the platform, the benefits of telemedicine, and risks of telemedicine. Basically, this form could be used by any type of practitioner and does not consider the unique issues that health and wellness coaches face, such as scope of practice, unlicensed practice, missed or canceled appointments, termination of services, client responsibility in the coaching relationship, just to name a few.
Unfortunately, I have had numerous coaches tell me that they are using these templates from their telehealth provider, but they are misled into thinking this form offers full protection for their coaching business. It does nothing of the sort. In other words, it falls far short from what a coach truly needs to mitigate their risk, such as the documents listed above.
As a result, I am partial to establishing a relationship with a competent attorney who specializes in serving health and wellness professionals. Such attorneys understand the unique role health and wellness professionals, such as coaches, play in improving health and wellbeing of clients. For any health and wellness professionals out there who are looking for that legal and compliance partner, reach out to the Center for Health and Wellness Law, LLC. We are here to serve you so you can serve others.
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