With recent figures estimating that 61% of all adults use a smartphone, and as smartphone usage continues to increase and technology evolves, we can increasingly expect more and more people to turn to convenient apps and software to make their lives easier. Therapists and their patients are no exception.
Navigating the fast-evolving world of blended care can sometimes seem overwhelming. For patients, finding the right therapist, booking appointments, and understanding insurance claims is often a frustrating exercise. For therapists, repetition and tedious administrative tasks often keep them from doing what they love best – helping others overcome mental health symptoms and emotional pain.
Fortunately, technological advances are making it easier for providers to offer mental healthcare to those who need it. Choosing the right therapy apps for your clinical practice will make obtaining healthcare more accessible for your patients, and everyday office tasks far more streamlined. Best of all? Deploying therapy apps for your practice doesn’t have to break the bank.
What Are Therapist Apps?
Mobile mental health applications, or apps, have a lot to offer the modern-day therapists. Apps can help therapists streamline and automate repetitive, but crucial office tasks, such as scheduling and filing and coding documents. For patients, there are therapist apps that make it easier for them to obtain care remotely. No matter what tasks a therapist would like to automate or streamline, there is probably an app for it.
Later in the article, we’ll cover a list of some of the most popular apps for therapists and what they can do for both organizations and patients.
Is There An App For That?
So, what types of tasks do some of the most popular virtual care apps handle?
- Visitor Management
- Notes and Documentation
- Billing and Coding
It’s possible for organizations to use standalone apps that handle one specific task. Organizations with greater automation or telehealth needs can benefit from using more robust systems that include entire EHR or EMR suites.
A small, solo practice may only need a standalone therapy application, while larger organizations may need to invest in whole therapy application systems. Also, many therapy apps are specialty-specific. Providers can find therapy apps that are designed for family and group counseling, behavioral health, telepsychology, online coaching, and even telepsychiatry.
How Do Patients Benefit from Therapy Apps?
There is a huge need for mental healthcare services, but they are not always accessible to many patients. Patients who live in remote areas, don’t have access to a vehicle, or have a mental or physical condition that limits their ability to leave the house can significantly benefit from using teletherapy apps.
There is a huge need for mental healthcare services, but they are not always accessible to many patients.
Less Stressful Visits
For many patients, leaving home and attending a therapy session can be overwhelming. Patients with severe anxiety or depression may find it easier to start and comply with treatment plans if their therapist offers apps for remote sessions, called teletherapy.
These apps also make it easy for therapists to view the patient’s documents and progress notes while in a video conference session. For therapists who conduct group or family counseling, there are apps designed for group video conferences too.
Lower Dropout Rates
Patients are more likely to keep up with their therapy sessions if making appointments and communicating with their therapist or staff is comfortable and private. Many therapy apps offer visitor management features.
With certain apps for therapists, patients can discreetly sign in to their session via a mobile or a tablet, so no one else in the waiting room will see or hear their confidential information.
Patients who are kept needlessly waiting in the lobby can find attending therapy sessions a nerve-wracking experience. With visitor management therapy apps, therapists can be alerted when patients arrive and sign in via their devices. Notifications are sent straight to the therapist’s phone, which can cut down on wait times.
Also, therapists and patients are notified when scheduling mishaps occur. There are numerous mobile therapy apps on the market today that deal strictly with scheduling. These apps can make it easy for patients to find available appointment times, schedule appointments, and set up recurring appointments.
They may also be able to send automated reminders to the patient’s phone or email, which can reduce incidences of forgotten and missed appointments and protect the organization’s cash flow. Regardless, patients, individual practitioners, and entire organizations can benefit from using different therapy apps.
Cloud-Based vs. On-Premise Therapy Apps
When choosing the right vendor for a therapy app, one of the most important decisions is choosing to deploy a cloud-based system or an on-premise system. Cloud-based systems have become incredibly popular, and nearly all therapy app vendors offer some form of cloud-based applications.
As well as being priced differently on the whole, both systems have different technology, pros, and cons.
Consider these basic differences:
- Cloud-based systems are run on an external, remote server and accessed through the internet
- On-premise systems are installed locally and run on the organization’s servers
- Cloud software is typically priced in tiers and paid as a monthly or annual subscription
- On-premise systems are priced as a one-time license fee, with recurring fees for support
Since an on-premise system typically requires a larger upfront cost than cloud-based apps, it’s considered a capital expenditure. For cloud-based therapy apps, these systems are operating expenses since deploying them will add to the organization’s overhead.
For smaller organizations and new practitioners, cloud-based systems have lower entry costs and may be easier to obtain and run. Since these apps run on a remote server, individual practices don’t have to update or maintain the system – instead, this is done by vendors.
Cloud-Based Practice Management Systems: Pros and Cons
Both cloud-based and on-premise practice management solutions have their own set of pros and cons.
Let’s take a look at the table below for a little more insight into what the research says.
Privacy and Security Questions
Most pressingly with cloud-based systems, and as the table shows, many sensitive documents will be created, shared, reviewed, and stored off-site. Understandably, providers who are new to the concept of using therapy apps may be wary of security issues with a cloud-based system.
As a therapist or institution, it’s important to choose a provider who can ensure secure data storage. Alternatively or in addition to this, it’s worth considering an additional third-party vendor security audit, which is especially helpful if the vendor is new to the market or less well-known.
On-Premise Practice Management Systems: Pros and Cons
If the sound of off-site data storage doesn’t appeal to you as a practitioner, it might be worth considering the benefits and drawbacks of on-premise therapy software solutions.
In A Nutshell
To round it all up, choosing the right type of therapy app means considering the following factors:
- The size of your organization, in terms of how many people will be accessing the system
- The importance of mobile-accessibility to your practice
- Your budget
- If you as a practitioner or organization require customization of the apps
There are other things to consider when choosing the right apps for occupational therapists and mental healthcare providers. Analyzing the needs and desires of staff and of the organization’s client base is crucial for finding the right therapy apps.
What To Consider When Choosing Therapy Apps
Staff members are on the frontlines of both administrative tasks, scheduling, and patient care. Organizations must listen to their staff members when it comes to choosing a new therapy app. Otherwise, providers can make the mistake of picking an application that includes features that the staff will never use or find it challenging to navigate. If that happens, the organization will have wasted money investing in something that won’t benefit the organization.
Also, providers should consider how a therapy app could benefit their patients. Offering mobile accessibility might make it easier for their patients to comply with treatment plans. Also, visitor management capabilities may put patients at ease, helping organizations retain their clients or find new ones.
When searching for a new therapy app, practices should consider their organization’s, staff members, and patient’s unique needs and how an app can meet these requirements.
4 Most Popular Therapy Apps
Ready to trial or implement a new app into your practice? Many platforms offer free trials so you can test-drive their services; alternatively, there are a lot of well-reviewed, popular and highly-recommended apps out there.
Here are just a few that you can browse based on what your organization requires.
|The American Psychiatric Association has launched this official mobile therapy app, available for both iOS and Android phones. The app has a one-time setup fee and offers up-to-date access to ICD-9-CM and ICD-10-CM codes.|
The app also gives users search and bookmarking capabilities, as well as video commentary. This handy DSM-5 reference can make assessments much easier and save the therapist’s time when searching for the correct ICD codes. Users aren’t required to register with the vendor for access.
|Name||DSM-5 Diagnostic Criteria|
|TheraNest is a therapy notes app for mental health professionals that offers mobile access and convenient capabilities. TheraNest comes with a complete catalog of diagnostic codes that are simple to pre-select. Providers can also view and make appointments straight from their mobile device while on the app.|
It’s also possible for users to accept both patient and staff signatures within the secure application. This app is available for iPhones, iPads, and Android devices.
|Good For||Client Interface, Practice Management, Secure Document Storage|
|SimplePractice is a very user-friendly mobile app for mental health providers and therapists. The app is available for both iOS and Android devices.|
Providers can easily automate and streamline several tasks, including appointment settings. It’s also possible for users to make and send invoices and process payments in the app.
|Good For||Video Therapy, Practice Management, Billing, Mobile Therapy|
|Compared to the other apps we’ve looked at so far, AdvancedMD’s capabilities and functions are more tailored for larger organizations. AdvancedMD is a comprehensive software suite for therapists and other mental health practices.|
The program features EHR, patient health engagement, telemedicine, rooming, business intelligence reporting, and practice management, among other capabilities, within a cloud-based app. The app also allows providers to track claims status and track payments. Mobile users can access the app from iOS devices. AdvancedMD also offers users browser-agnostic capabilities for both Mac and Windows systems.
|Good For||EHR, EMR, Billing, Practice Management|
Not taking advantage of technology and using therapist apps is wasting massive potential. In today’s digital and complex world, providers must utilize technology to keep their businesses running smoothly and enhance patient care. Therapy apps and apps for occupational therapists can make administrative tasks less tedious and cumbersome. Automation and scheduling software also reduce incidences of no-shows and cancellations.
With therapy apps, providers can protect their cash flow while making it easier to treat patients. On the customer service side of things, therapy apps make setting appointments, contacting therapists, and attending sessions more efficient and comfortable for clients.
Have you started using therapy apps for your practice? Which ones have you found the most beneficial, and would you recommend it to others? Please let us know how therapy apps are working for you in the comments.
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