If you’ve ever wondered what a clinician’s secret is to managing their business and their clients, the likely answer is the practice management software they use every day. What is practice management software? In essence, it’s a tool used by clinicians to keep track of electronic health records (EHRs), billing, and more. Whether your private practice is new or just needs a technology update, you can look for these 5 features from your software to simplify your business (and take away some of your stress).
1. The Ability to Update Electronic Health Records
Before we discuss an EHR, we’re obligated to mention HIPAA compliance, mostly because practice owners are obligated to make sure their practice management software is HIPAA compliant as well. What does HIPAA compliant software look like? Great question. Any HIPAA compliant software you use should have policies and procedures in place to meet the technical and physical safeguards of the HIPAA Security Rule and the HIPAA Privacy Rule. It's easy to check if the software you want to use is HIPAA compliant as most companies will want to boast that fact. Of course, you should always ask about the company’s compliance to be sure they are meeting the proper standards.
Find a HIPAA compliance checklist and guide here.
More information about HIPAA compliance here.
Once you determine whether or not the software is actually compliant you can check on the necessary first feature – your ability to update client records. Many clinicians are still devoted to paper when it comes to keeping their records. While paper may be a tried and true method for some, it doesn’t benefit the clinician or the client in the long run. With the right software, you can quickly update client records during or after an appointment and be able to refer to that information all in one place. You also don’t have to worry about missing information, and you’ll know exactly where to go if you need to access any piece of those records.
2. The Ability to File Insurance Claims
If you plan on accepting insurance at your mental health practice, then you’ll want to make sure you are also able to easily submit claims. Working with insurance companies may sound like a daunting task but doesn’t have to be. Are you new to filling claims? There are key pieces of information you need to be able to collect from the client and key steps you’ll need to take to get your claims accepted. For example, you’ll need demographic information from the client (including their name and date of birth) along with their insurance information and you’ll need to follow specific processes with the insurance company (which can vary depending on if you’re in or out of network with that company).
Overall, it sounds like a difficult process, but your practice management software should help to make it easy. You should be able to submit forms and claims to the insurance companies and check the status of those claims within the platform. Generally, there will be a free trial available with certain software, so you can always test this particular feature and make sure it’s as seamless as you want it to be.
Find more information about submitting claims here.
3. The Ability to Bill Clients
Making sure you get paid for your services doesn’t end at submitting a claim. If you want a seamless process, then you’ll also look at your software’s options for billing and taking payments. If you’re wondering what types of fees you’ll have to collect from clients, they can include copays, any charges their insurance won’t cover, and regular fees for visits if your client doesn’t have insurance. You can collect fees while the client is in the office or send a paper statement, but you can also find software that allows you to send a bill or invoice to your client electronically. Take things a step further and make sure your client can pay their fees using a credit or debit card.
4. Options for Therapy Notes
Practice management software can be a great tool for making sure you don’t spend too much time on administrative tasks. It should also help you provide excellent care to the clients who rely on you every day. Therapy notes are a big part of this care so your software should help you keep your notes organized and up to date. You can generally find a software that has a section for notes available. The best software will provide different templates so you can choose the right note for each client and circumstance.
Check out some of the options for notes with My Client’s Plus here.
5. A Client Portal
What do you think of when you consider the last seamless experience you had with your own doctor? What did you have to go through to schedule your appointment or update your information? Hopefully, you had access to a client portal where you could take care of everything at once. If you want to provide the same type of seamless experience for your clients, then you’ll want a practice management software with a client portal option. Having a client portal for clients benefits your practice in the long run by providing a place where clients can complete registration and scheduling as well. Even if you don’t start off with a client portal option on day one of your practice, you want to make sure you have a software that lets you update or add the feature when you’re ready.
Bonus: Customer Support
When you start using new software you often find yourself with a multitude of questions. It doesn’t matter if the software is easy to use or if you have the greatest technical expertise, new experiences come with confusion and you often need help. When this occurs, you can use the guides and quick tips that software offers, but it's even better if they have a great customer service team that’s available to answer your questions. When you’re choosing your practice management software think about the accessibility and thoroughness of customer support. Not sure what you’re looking for? The best customer support is available even before you sign up, so take the opportunity to reach out with questions at the very beginning of your decision process.