Some less optimistic AI experts believe that automation will replace up to 40% of all jobs within next 15 years. But not all skills and jobs can be replaced.[1] For therapists and other mental health care professionals, human connection and emotional intelligence are essential for the job – all qualities and skills that a robot can’t imitate.

At the same time, automation and AI enhance many tasks that therapists must complete to run a successful practice, but which take away time from patient care and treatment.

Here, we look at how client management software programs and applications can free up valuable time for you as a practitioner, while helping you comply with privacy and security laws.

Client Management Software: Features To Look For

Cutting-edge tech tools have made a significant difference in the way mental health offices operate and provide care today.

The ideal client management app can automate many repetitive yet crucial administrative tasks, making your whole practice run more smoothly.

A well-run and efficient office with user-friendly tech can also make it easier to attract new clients while building customer relationships, and in this way, client management tools can make patient visits more pleasant.

The ideal client management app can automate many repetitive yet crucial administrative tasks, making your whole practice run more smoothly.

Who Uses Client Management Software?

Are many of the most popular client management tools and CRMs just for the largest institutions?

In a word, no.

Even smaller practices or solo therapy offices can benefit from client management systems. With a range of affordable options on the market today, reducing the necessity of large upfront costs that often deter small practices.

Whether you’re running a small, medium, or large institution, many practice management tasks can easily be automated – and in the next few sections, we’ll explore how.

Here’s a small overview of the features that are worth looking out for when you’re choosing a client management system.

Feature

Details

Patient Scheduling Abilities

  • Automated scheduling and calendar management can free up admin and patient time, reducing the likelihood of mismanaged cancellations and rescheduling.
  • Often, they can help cut down on missed appointments.

Client Portal Apps

  • Often, making it easier for both patients and providers to create, view, revise, and storing therapy and healthcare forms.
  • Portals help reduce filing and digitization headaches associated with traditional paper-based forms.

Documentation Capabilities

  • Helping organize and maintain up-to-date client treatment documentation such as SOAP and BIRP notes by reducing admin errors, enhancing efficiency, and through file-sharing capabilities.
  • With templates, secure storage, and remote access, practitioners can spend less time on office management.

Client Management Billing and Payment Tools

  • Streamlining payment processes such as invoicing, billing, and insurance claims with online databases and templates
  • Minimizing human errors on reports and official documentation.

Teletherapy Tools

  • Allowing mental healthcare practitioners to reach a broader audience and conduct more between-session check-ins through video conferencing, mobile therapy, therapy apps, and more.

Patient Scheduling Abilities

In practice, patient scheduling can take up an alarming amount of staff time, making it a strategic admin task to outsource with a client management tool.

Automating Client Management

As well as freeing up more patient and provider time with streamlined scheduling, some more sophisticated client management tools have built-in programs that minimize the risk of human error, saving stress, and improving the client experience.

Modern and sophisticated client management tools are making it much easier for clinicians to communicate with their clients, confirm schedules, and account details.

Helping professionals, for example, may be familiar with the following – which scheduling functions are designed to address.

  • Misprocessed cancellations and no-shows harm organizational cash flow
  • When no cancellation policies are established, scheduling mishaps increase
  • Scheduling errors can damage client engagement, through misunderstandings
  • Scheduling errors can also impact how comfortable and at-ease patients are at the therapist’s office

Look for tools that offer automated appointment reminders, allowing patients to confirm their upcoming appointments remotely.

Also helpful are scheduling apps that let patients choose available appointment dates and schedule recurring appointments – these can often be found in the most basic apps.

For more robust needs, some client scheduling programs include additional features that let clinicians analyze if there are any patterns around no-shows or cancellations.

They can also view data on which days and times are most popular for scheduling appointments, which helps ease up scheduling bottlenecks.

Client Portal Apps

Communication, trust, and ease are at the core of building strong relationships between patients and mental health care providers, helping them cooperate toward improved healthcare outcomes.[2]

Modern and sophisticated client management tools are making it much easier for clinicians to communicate with their clients, confirm schedules, and account details. Web-based client portals allow these processes to happen seamlessly, and from any location or device.

Why Patient Portals?

A client portal is a web-based application that allows patients to sign-in with their unique identifier from any connected device.

Most client management programs include options for convenient and user-friendly client portals, where patients and clients can view vital information like:

  • Upcoming and past appointments
  • Any payment details they may have missed
  • Notifications, reminders, and cancellations from the practice end, and
  • Important documents and forms – such as Informed Consent, which can be read and filled ahead of time.

More detailed applications may allow patients and therapists to message each other, replacing emails or SMS with more private, secure communications. Often smartphone-compatible as mobile apps, giving therapists and their clients a streamlined, smooth process for managing their care and treatment plans.

Client portals can also be incredibly helpful in reducing physical paperwork; therapists can ask their clients to fill out their medical history and enrollment forms via the electronic portal.

Many are also compliant with HIPAA and HITECH acts, making them secure, yet easy to access for authorized persons.[3][4]

Documentation Capabilities

Some client management tools include the ability to digitally attach therapy notes and other documents to the patient’s account.

Therapists can then create, upload, store, and view different documents in a digital, secure platform, freeing them from paperwork headaches.

Faster, Better, Safer Treatment Plans

Client documentation software often includes templates with drag-and-drop interfaces too, making it incredibly easy for therapists to keep accurate, secure notes on their patient’s progress and treatment plans.

By pulling details from other documents, many can prepopulate files to save further time when uploading new templates to patient records.

Many of these template programs also save time by:

  • Being compatible with speech-to-text software programs — dictating instead of typing can speed the process up even more
  • Help eliminate certain issues that can arise with paper-based documentation processes, such as damage or loss
  • Using inbuilt industry-specific spellcheckers and diagnostic code suggestions, and
  • Offering privacy, insurance, and legal compliance with mental healthcare regulations.

It’s possible to get documentation software as a standalone feature or have it included into a more robust client management program.

Client Management Billing and Payment Tools

Collecting payment from patients and insurance companies can be a challenge. But automated systems and client billing software can make the job a little bit easier and less time-consuming.

Client billing apps and programs include all of the tools you would need to collect payments from insurance companies and clients too.

Smoother Payment and Invoicing

  • Direct acceptance of credit card payments
  • Setup for automatic, recurring payments
  • Claim submission, and
  • Ability to check claim status

Other features therapists can find in client billing software include the ability to create and send statements, invoices, and superbills.

These programs can also include ways to run reports on payment, invoices, and revenue. This feature makes it easier for therapists to run and optimize the business side of their private practice while serving their clients.

Teletherapy Tools and Client Management Software

Telemedicine, telehealth, and teletherapy are waves of the future, and these convenient systems for providing care are here to stay.

While providing or receiving mental healthcare over the internet is not for everybody, teletherapy can benefit a lot of people and is something that therapists may want to consider offering their clients.

All an organization needs to provide this form of healthcare is a reliable internet connection and the right software.

Who Can Benefit from Offering Teletherapy?

Teletherapy can open up entirely new markets to healthcare providers, and help the following groups:[5]

  • Patients who live in remote, rural areas with limited access to mental health programs
  • Patients who do not have access to transportation
  • Patients who are unable to drive to their appointments
  • Patients with severe physical or mental health limitations that make it hard for them to attend a therapy session outside of the home.

There’s no specific discipline that can benefit from it either, as digital channels offer a convenient, scalable way to deliver many different services.

To give just a few examples, they can be customized for:

Understanding Teletherapy Best Practice

There are a few important practical aspects to consider before offering teletherapy, however.

Legal Regulations

Legal regulations and requirements for telehealth and video conferencing software will influence an organization’s choice of vendor.[6]

Depending on legal requirements, video therapy software will need to comply with certain security protocols and also include secure data encryption processes. Providers should be careful to pick a client application for telehealth that complies with local regulations and laws.

User Experience

Also, tools should work smoothly for patients. Attending therapy with a new provider can give someone severe anxiety, so the easier and more reliable the devices are to use, the better for the patient’s peace of mind and satisfaction.

Easy-to-use tools can greatly improve trust between the client and provider, too. As many patients won’t necessarily be technologically experienced, it’s critical that providers pick an application that is user-friendly and compatible with many devices.

Hosting and Technical Issues

The most convenient programs run through cloud- or web-based software. This cuts down on the need to make extra logins or downloads.

Instead, clients rely on a secure web link to access a private session. Therapists who conduct group or family sessions will need to find a program that includes group conferencing features.

Visitor Management Tools and Software Programs

For mental health providers, putting clients at ease and making them feel comfortable in the time leading up to a session is a critical part of improving treatment outcomes and enhancing the client-provider relationship.

Boosting Engagement With Client Management Software

What are some things that therapists should be aware of regarding their organization’s ability to put clients at ease?

The following questions can help you assess how, and where, client management software might be most beneficial in your practice.

  • How does the waiting area for the office feel, or sound? Visitors should feel relaxed in this environment. The lighting, decor, and furniture should be soft and welcoming. Peaceful music playing in the background can also help visitors feel less nervous.
  • Do patients need to state their name or other personal information out loud?
  • Do patients need to write down personal information, such as in intake forms, where others can easily see them?

Improved Visitor Management

Visitor management tools and software programs can establish systems for an organization that makes patients feel more at ease prior to sessions.

These software features include putting in a digitized check-in and check-out system, allowing patients to enter their information in a secure system so unauthorized persons won’t see or hear it.

Visitor management programs also give patients a way to contact the staff or their therapist directly, so they are never left waiting alone in the lobby for long.

  • Visitors can sign in and out discreetly via an app on a tablet or a smartphone
  • The software sends a notification to the provider that the patient has arrived
  • Patients can message the provider before sessions to avoid unnecessary, nerve-wracking waits

These systems can also notify backup therapists or staff members in case of a scheduling issue so that visitors will get prompt attention. Notifications can be sent to the therapist’s cell phone, so they are unlikely to be missed and don’t require providers to be in an office.

These programs can also delete the visitor sign-in records automatically at specified intervals, further protecting patient privacy.

Final Thoughts

Client management software programs reduce repetitive administrative tasks, freeing up the provider’s time, and allowing them to concentrate more fully on patient care.

For patients, these types of programs can improve the relationships they have with their therapists and make it easier to access care and feel more at ease with the process.

When choosing a client management program, be sure to look for these specific features to enhance the treatment process while remaining compliant with security protocols and legal requirements.

References

  1. ^ Reisinger, D. (2019). A.I. Expert Says Automation Could Replace 40% of Jobs in 15 Years. Retrieved from https://fortune.com/2019/01/10/automation-replace-jobs/
  2. ^ Brown, P., Calnan, M., Scrivener, A., & Szmukler, G. (2009). Trust in mental health services: A neglected concept. Journal of Mental Health, 18(5), 449.
  3. ^ United States. (2004). The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Dept. of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration.
  4. ^ HITECH (2009). HITECH Act Enforcement Interim Final Rule. Retrieved from: https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/special-topics/hitech-act-enforcement-interim-final-rule/index.html
  5. ^ Godine, N., & Barnett, J. E. (2013). The use of telepsychology in clinical practice: Benefits, effectiveness, and issues to consider. International Journal of Cyber Behavior, Psychology and Learning (IJCBPL), 3(4), 70.
  6. ^ APA. (2020). Guidelines for the Practice of Telepsychology. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/practice/guidelines/telepsychology/

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