For Clinicians: The Path to Paperless...

Got a great comment/question from Uriah Guilford at 

"I really want to go paperless, but haven't found the right software or program. I did the Argonaut trial, but just didn't like the look and feel, not to mention the yearly cost. Are there any other products you would recommend?"

I feel you on the look and feel of the Argonaut product. In fact, I was lucky to beta-test their product and got to have a big voice on what features were included. However, it wasn't the slick, web 2.0 looking interface that I liked (most of you have no idea what I mean by that). In other words, it didn't look fresh, new, and intuitive. 

When another, not to be named paperless system came out before Argonaut fully launched- I jumped ship to integrate the other one into my practice. It had a lot of positive features- and much more of the look and feel that I was going for. The cost also was smaller on the front end- which I liked. However, there were some big problems that ultimately led me back to Argonaut:


  • bugs, bugs, bugs... this program would make changes that would "Break" the system. At one point, I couldn't access old notes for almost 3 weeks! Needless to say, this was unacceptable.

  • Too much stuff! To do the basic things I wanted to do- it was a PROCESS! It took me a long time to put in progress notes, treatment plans, and ultimately wasn't saving me time!

  • Promises not kept. There were features and services promised at the outset that just never came to fruition. I understand it, it happens. But, I ended up having to double-entry to print out insurance forms for PPO clients who needed HCFAs and do other work arounds.

  • Finally, they didn't have a true "paperless" option. I couldn't customize forms or paperwork that clients could intuitively fill out. What this ended up meaning is that clients were filling out paperwork, bringing it me and I had to scan it in and upload it to the client's files one by one- ugh!


Ultimately, this process of trying out this program (and several other programs) led me to realize that, for my practice, a few features were non-negotiable: 


  • Eforms- A way to take electronic forms, e-signatures, and accept uploaded content from clients. Th majority of clients LOVE this feature.

  • CMS-1500 forms- I don't take insurance and I used to simply do superbills. However, more insurance companies are requiring that client submit reimbursement requests on CMS-1500. It makes sense to me to have optimal customer service and make it simple. I need something that auto-completes these forms.

  • Credit Card Integration- taking credit cards and having a card on file is a fantastic business practice for me. It takes money out of the forefront of the session, allows people to use flex spending accounts and HSA easily, and reduces missed sessions.


Argonaut is the only program out there that provides these services at a reasonable fee. I just went on an exhaustive search AGAIN for something better and just haven't found something. I could piece together my own solution but... I don't want to be responsible for: 

  • backups

  • security updates

  • ensuring HIPAA compliance

  • securing every bit of hardware

  • credit card machines with batch reports and long term contracts

There are definitely things on Argonaut that could be improved. I appreciate that they make regular updates and upgrades to the system. I heard a rumor that look and feel is one thing that they have on deck for making a change in the not so distant future. 

Can you tell I have thought, researched, explored long and hard on this? It was a major part of my preparation for CAMFT's 2011 annual conference in Burlingame, CA. 

If you have a specific program you would like feedback on that you find, or that you would like me to review- send me the link. I love checking out new programs. I LOVE sharing what I LOVE- but I never stay married to something if it isn't the best product for me and my business! 

Hope this helps you and others on your "path to paperless." What about y'all? As you look at your business process- what is taking up the most time? Costing you the most money? Share what you think you need in a practice management system in the comments section below. Or, share your burning paperless questions or fears! 

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Miranda Palmer, LMFT