Encore Entrepreneur Stories: Finding a niche as an independent health clinic audit consultant Roberta Kaplan

Roberta Kaplan, owner of InnovaHealth

Independent health clinic auditor Roberta Kaplan, MPH, MS, PA, and owner of InnovaHealth.

InnovaHealth owner Roberta Kaplan lands on her feet with a specialized encore career as an independent health clinic auditor.

What the business does: Independent health clinic audit consultant for Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

Re-visiting, Re-creation and Re-Imagining: Roberta Kaplan was working for the Oregon Health Authority.  She did this for two years, conducting clinic visits through the Patient Centered Medical Home Program.  She collected unemployment insurance due to a lay off at 62.   Her unemployment benefits were going to run out when a letter came in the mail stating she might be a candidate for self-employment.  So she was able to get support while starting her business.  Roberta had never considered self-employment.

Someone suggested that she do clinic audits on a large scale.  She had to write a business plan, and started to do research.  A friend suggested she apply to the contractor companies who provide oversight for Health Services and Services Administration (HRSA).  HRSA clinics are government run programs that provide full services including medical, dental, behavioral care to vulnerable populations.  The under-insured and those on Medicaid are clients.  She put together her small business as a health clinic auditor.  InnovaHealth was established.

What’s working now:  Roberta keeps busy, especially during the warmer months.  Travel to far flung locations is easier from March to October.  1,350 federally funded health clinics exist in the country.  They in turn have multiple sites totaling 5,000. There are 33 HRSA clinics in Oregon, including Outside In and Wallace Medical Concern.  For people in remote areas, these clinics are the only access to health care.

Roberta flies up to 80 times a year.  She often flies out at the beginning of the week, works 12 hours days, returns home Thursday.  She writes the report over a weekend post-audit.  Roberta is paid upon turning in the report.  She’s off again come Monday morning.  The winter months are quieter, therefore with little to no work.  Hence she attends networking events.  She audits college classes to stave off isolation.

BSR wisdom: Roberta writes:  “I was excited and scared about the prospects of starting out on my own. There was so much that I didn’t know. It took a while to get everything organized, even with resources available.  I underestimated my capabilities, and I have grown in confidence over the last few years.”

“Being self employed is not for the faint of heart. Do your homework. Do market research; look at the resources that are available through the SBDC, the SBA; Oregon certification programs; do informational interviews. Look at your finances. Can you swing the financial impact of starting a new business? Do you have a safety net? Is this all feasible? It takes several years to turn a profit. Understand your motivation. Are you the kind of person that likes the independence? Are you a self starter?  Really understand the importance of a business versus a hobby.”
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For more information on how the SBDC can help you with your self-employment ideas, visit: http://www.bizcenter.org/
For help from the SBA visit https://www.sba.gov/