For many therapists, deciding whether or not to use a therapy tool can be quite a dilemma. Therapists who aren’t familiar with these types of devices may have justifiable concerns about HIPAA and data security issues, even though patients and staff may prefer to use these tools.
Fortunately, teletherapy tool vendors are offering more and more secure, compliant scheduling and documentation software, and in many cases, these therapy tools are industry-specific. Here’s what you need to know about the best therapy tools for documentation and scheduling tasks, so you can deliver higher-quality care with less fuss.
What is Therapy Documentation Software?
Therapists worldwide are trying to reduce the time spent on repetitive tasks by incorporating different therapy scheduling and documentation tools into blended care service models, as well as enhance patient care, protect client privacy, and safeguard their professional cash flows.
Given the ample documentation that healthcare delivery involves, it’s no surprise that some digital help with paperwork is a popular solution.
Therapy documentation software is sometimes called therapy notes software. These types of therapy tools can create, pre-populate, store, and send medical notes related to mental healthcare and therapy settings, and typically include templates for notes and documents that are industry-specific.
A Closer Look
Examples of these types of materials include:
- Intake documents
- Progress notes
- Therapy notes
- Discharge notes, and
- Treatment plans.
Because therapy documentation establishes a record of the patient’s encounters and progress with the mental health system, it’s critical that patient files are current, accurate, and compliant with privacy laws. Therapy notes or documentation software can make it much easier for therapists to track patient progress and treatment.
These types of therapy tools also make it easier to store and review documents, and cut down the digitization process that’s common with traditional paper documents.
Therapy documents are often shared among different authorized persons. When the notes are created on a software program, they are standardized, and they also aren’t handwritten. With most therapy documentation tools, the programs come with a range of standard features.
Standard Features of Therapy Documentation Tools
Modern therapy practices that utilize therapy documentation tools share many common needs. As such, vendors have met these desires with documentation tools that feature several key components that make it easier to run a therapy practice.
Therapy documentation tools make it easier to store and review documents, and cut down the digitization process that’s common with traditional paper documents.
Depending on the types of software therapy tool a practice chooses, they may be able to both schedule appointment sessions and take advantage of note templates and other documentation features. Convenient scheduling tools can also make it an easy choice for otherwise reluctant or stressed patients to come to therapy.
- Coding tools that help therapists find and enter the correct codes for their notes and billing documents. Many tools come with a searchable database for codes or offer users access to a pre-programmed code menu. These capabilities can increase accuracy while decreasing the time spent looking for the right codes.
- Note management capabilities are standard with therapy documentation tools. This feature lets therapists find and view patient notes quickly and easily. Many programs allow organizations to create authorized users for different notes so the right people can see the documents and provide more streamlined care.
- Note templates are another common and useful feature with therapy documentation software. These therapy tools are often industry-specific, allowing therapists to create and customize note templates with user-friendly drop-down menus.
- Tracking outcome capabilities lets therapists turn their notes into reports. This way, therapists can gauge patient outcomes across different demographics.
- Staff management features let an organization assign different roles for users within the system. This robust feature gives users different levels of access and ensures that therapists only view notes for their patients. Staff management capabilities are often needed for larger therapy organizations.
How Do They Help Therapists and Organizations?
The benefits of therapy documentation tools have been made clear throughout the article, but they do offer a few other perks as well:
- Therapy documentation tools are designed to save organizations time. Providers can create the document once within the digital program, instead of making a paper note, digitizing it, and then filing the hard copy. In this way, therapy tools for documentation cut down on staff time and free up minutes and hours that could be better spent dealing directly with patients.
- Organizations that value eco-friendliness will enjoy the prospect of going to a paperless office through digital therapy tools.
- Digital notes are easier to organize when the program automatically dates and timestamps the documents and then files them away in the correct locations. With paper documents, staff may have to search for the right file.
- Documentation tools make it easier for therapists to code their notes.
- Documentation tools also offer patient analytics, allowing therapists to more efficiently and accurately track the patient’s progress over a period of time.
3 Popular Therapy Documentation Tools Today
Below are some of the most popular therapy documentation tools organizations of all sizes can use.
|TherapyNotes is a documentation tool designed for mental health and behavioral therapists. The program includes a range of beneficial features that can aid organizations of all sizes.|
Users will have access to patient portals, EHR, bill features, and patient scheduling features in addition to robust documentation capabilities. The program includes a range of templates for notes that are specialty-specific.
|Good For||Scheduling, Note-Taking, EHR, Client Interaction|
|Therabill gives therapists the ability to document their sessions with a variety of customizable templates. Documents can be created with an easy drag-and-drop interface.|
In addition to these features, TheraBill users will also have access to scheduling capabilities too and unlimited claims submissions, along with patient invoicing features.
|Good For||Document Management, Note-Taking, Billing, Practice Management|
|The Valant Behavioral Health EHR is a fully-integrated suite and therapy tool designed specifically for behavioral health therapists.|
The suite offers patient health records and documentation capabilities, along with scheduling, patient portals, and practice management features for therapists.
|Name||The Valant Behavioral Health EHR|
|Price||Available on request|
|Good For||EHR, Practice Management, Scheduling|
What is Therapy Appointment Software?
Scheduling patients can take up a lot of time. For therapists, outsourcing appointment setting to a therapy tool will make their organization more efficient. These types of therapy tools also make scheduling and appointment setting easier for patients. When it comes to the client experience, scheduling is critical.
How Can It Help?
Scheduling problems increase the likelihood of no-shows or cancellations, which is harmful to an organization’s budget. For patients who are nervous about attending therapy, a scheduling error or confusion with appointment times can sometimes compound their anxiety, leading to treatment disruptions or interrupted progress. Fortunately, easy-to-use therapy tools for appointment setting help organizations avoid these problems.
Therapy scheduling tools often also come with smartphone compatibility, which is ideal for mobile therapy practitioners. Both patients and providers can access the tool from their iOS or Android device, depending on which program they are using.
As a result:
- Patients can see what appointment times are available, and schedule recurring appointments if needed.
- Therapists, too can use the tools to find out which appointment times and days are the most popular with their clientele, then adjust their organization’s plans accordingly.
Therapy scheduling tools often also come with features that allow therapists to set up automatic reminders to reduce the chances of no-shows. The tools can send out appointment reminders at a prescheduled time to the patient’s phone, videoconferencing client, or email.
Why Use Therapy Tools for Appointment Setting?
While it’s true that deploying a therapy appointment tool will cost money, these tools offer organizations a good return on investment for a few different reasons. In many instances, a therapist session can even cost more than the monthly fee for running appointment software.
Therapy scheduling tools often come with features that allow therapists to set up automatic reminders to reduce the chances of no-shows.
Attracting New Clients
Offering convenient, mobile appointment tools to patients can make an organization more attractive for new clients. While specific figures will vary based on practitioner services, organization size, and more, landing one or two new long-term clients is sometimes enough for smaller practices to recoup upfront investments quite fast.
Staff members and therapists also spend far less time trying to schedule and send patient reminders – often boosting efficiency and productivity – so the tools frequently offer a positive ROI in other, less immediately quantifiable ways.
Ongoing Client Retention
As with many other therapy software solutions, appointment-setting software was born out of practical necessity. It’s well-known among providers that many patients do not enjoy talking on the telephone to schedule, cancel, or reschedule appointments.
For those with mental health issues, speaking on the phone to schedule appointments can even increase emotional distress.
By allowing new patients to make appointments and describe symptoms through an online platform, therapy tools may increase the number of new clients an organization can get. In the larger scheme of things, therefore, they may make access to mental healthcare easier more widely – including some of the most vulnerable patient populations.
3 Most Popular Therapy Tools for Scheduling
Choosing the right therapy appointment tool for your organization will depend on several things. The organization’s size will often call for more robust systems and fully-integrated suites.
However, solo practices and small therapy offices can find standalone therapy tools that deal strictly with scheduling. Below are some of the most popular tools for setting and organizing therapy appointments.
|SimplePractice is a fully HIPAA compliant software tool for therapists that offers convenient scheduling capabilities. But, that’s not the only thing therapists can do with SimplePractice. SimplePractice is also a practice management system for organizations of varying sizes. The system also allows for notes and documentation, claim filing, and billing capabilities. But when it comes to scheduling specifically, SimplePractice is one of the most popular tools for therapists.|
SimplePractice allows for convenient and also HIPAA compliant calendar syncing features. Therapists can see all of their scheduled appointments in one place, like iCal, Outlook, and Google Calendar. With this feature, organizations can minimize the risks of double-booking clients. Automated, prescheduled appointment reminders also reduce the chances of a patient forgetting an appointment.
|Good For||Billing, Practice Management, Scheduling|
|This is a standalone tool that only deals with therapy appointments and scheduling tasks. Yellow Schedule therapy tool is HIPAA-compliant and is an excellent solution for therapists who don’t want additional practice management features that are found in SimplePractice.|
Yellow Schedule is an attractive feature for clients because it displays available appointment times directly on the organization’s website. The tool allows multiple therapists within a single organization to set up schedules, and clients can pick and choose which therapist they want to see at their select times.
Yellow Schedule also allows therapists to schedule recurring appointments for up to two years. Therapists can also set custom dates and times for when they are available, and the tool also lets them set up custom intervals for appointment lengths. With Yellow Schedule, therapists can sync their schedules in Outlook, Yahoo, Google Calendar, and iCal.
|Good For||Scheduling, Practice Management|
|Web-based Kareo was created for both therapists and general medical practitioners, and well-suited to the needs of smaller start-ups or sole traders. This software’s capabilities include:|
Quick to set up and with no contract required, Kareo is a cloud-based service that requires no on-premise hosting. Along with this, updates and support take place virtually, making it a low-maintenance solution for smaller practices.
|Price||Available on request|
|Good For||Scheduling, Clinical Billing, Client Engagement|
Technological advances and the evolution of software systems mean that it’s now possible for therapists to streamline a range of crucial business processes. But while shopping, it’s important to be vigilant – many tools on the market still do not offer the level of data protection required by healthcare workers.
As a therapist, it’s important to choose a documentation or scheduling tool that is HIPAA-compliant and compatible with your local privacy laws and regulations.
Another tip when choosing a therapy tool for your organization is to take account of what staff members and patients need from a scheduling or documentation tool. With care and caution, you as a practitioner can easily incorporate software into your practices to create better staff and patient experiences.
Have you implemented a documentation or scheduling tool for your therapy practice? How has it made scheduling and note-taking easier? Please feel free to share your experiences in the comments below.
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